An Original Screenplay by
Charles E. Berezin
Copyright ã 2000 by Charles E. Berezin
EXT. CARIBBEAN COUNTRY ROAD - DAY
The year is 1794. TOUSSAINT, a black man, early middle-aged, is walking down a country road, reading a book. It is Sunday, and he is dressed in his best clothes, having just come from church. His clothes are ragged, but clean. His book is a missal. In the distance, we see a coach approaching.
ANGLE ON - ORNATE COACH AND FOUR
THE BLACK DRIVER is wearing an elegant livery. TWO BLACK POSTILIONS wear the same livery. Through the window, we see M. ODELUC. He is corpulent, ruddy, and his face is frozen in an expression somewhere between a sneer and a snarl. His hands rest on a thick gold-headed walking stick. As he sees Toussaint, he leans out of the window and RAPS the side of the coach with his stick.
Hey boy, stop!
THE COACH STOPS, and one of the postilions gets down and ceremoniously opens the door for M. Odeluc. Toussaint stops, but still holds the book open in front of him. M. Odeluc climbs down from the coach with the help of the postilion and walks resolutely over to Toussaint.
What are you doing with that book?
Who is your master?
M. Bayou de Libertas, agent for the Comte de Bréda.
Odeluc smashes the book out of Toussaint’s hands with his stick. Toussaint accepts this treatment impassively.
Any man who allows his niggers to read is a danger to the colony.
Odeluc beats Toussaint with his stick. Toussaint crumples to the ground. Finally, Odeluc walks back to his coach, gets in with the help of his postilion, and, with another RAP of his stick, signals the driver to be off. Toussaint lies there for a minute to catch his breath. He laboriously picks himself up and dusts himself off. His forehead is bloodied. He picks up his book and walks down the road, reading as before.
INT. TOUSSAINT’S COTTAGE - DAY
Primitive but respectable. A crucifix hangs prominently on the wall. Five or six tattered books sit on makeshift bookshelf. At a table in the center, a woman is grinding corn into meal, assisted by two teenage boys. She is SUZANNE, Toussaint’s wife, and she is about the same age as Toussaint. The boys are her sons, PLACIDE and ISAAC.
Toussaint enters, bloody, as before. The three look up. He goes immediately to the bookshelf, replaces the missal, and picks up another book. (He goes through the entire scene with the book in his hands.)
Toussaint! What’s happened!
Oh, a white man beat me for reading. I’m all right.
Get Moise, quick!
Placide runs out. Toussaint sits down by the table. Suzanne dips a rag in a bowl of water and wipes Toussaint’s forehead. He winces every now and then.
Be more careful, Toussaint. Not every master is like M.
I know that well enough.
It’s fine to walk around here with your head in the air, reading
books and the like. But outside Bréda, you’ve got to act more
like a slave. White people don’t understand--no telling what
ENTER MOISE. He is about twenty-five, strong and handsome.
What have they done to you, Toussaint?
It’s not bad; I’m all right. If field hands get flogged every
day, I can put up with a little beating now and then.
They won’t be beating us much longer; I can tell you that.
What do you know, Moise? I’ve heard rumors. Something
about a rising. Every day, more and more field hands
are running away to the mountains.
The whites have heard too, it seems; maybe that’s why
they act funny.
Tell me what you know.
Moise pauses--takes a few steps around the room.
You know Boukman?
That damned fool! You know better than to listen to a
It’s not just Boukman. Jean François has been talking to
the Spaniards. He says they’ll give us guns if we rise
against the French. He says the King has freed the blacks
but the whites have put him in prison.
(thoughtfully, after a pause)
Do you believe him?
I want to fight, Toussaint; I won’t be a slave all my life.
What do you know about fighting?
A sword--a machete--it’s all the same to me. I can cut
throats as well as sugar cane.
It’s true then . . . There’s going to be a rising.
Soon . . . I don’t know. I’m going with Dessalines to hear
Boukman, tonight. Why don’t you come and hear for
I’m a Catholic. You know I won’t go hear a voodoo man.
You’re too proud, Toussaint; you always were. Things are
happening. You can’t stand aside. We need you. You are
wise. You can read. The blacks look up to you. . .
Toussaint rises slowly and puts the book on the table. He holds Moise at arm’s length.
Moise. When you came from the slave ship, an orphan,
dazed and trembling, I took you into my house. I taught
you to read, to be a Christian. But you also learned hatred
at the hands of the whites. I fear your anger. If you want
to fight--I won’t try to stop you. But be sure you fight for freedom,
not vengeance. The world calls me your uncle, but I love
you like a father, Moise. Be careful, my son.
Moise turns to go.
They embrace. Moise exits.
Toussaint sits down and picks up the book. He opens to a page marked by a bit of string.
BLOW-UP OF PAGE
. . . A courageous chief only is wanted. Where is he, that
great man whom Nature owes to her vexed, oppressed,
and tormented black children? Where is he? He will appear;
doubt it not: he will come forth and raise the sacred standard
of liberty. He will gather around him the companions of his
misfortune. More fearsome than the flood, they will every-
where leave the indelible mark of their righteous anger.
Everywhere people will bless the name of the hero; every-
where they will raise monuments in his honor.
EXT. FOREST - SUNSET
Moise and DESSALINES are walking through the forest. Dessalines is shorter and older than Moise. He is tough and wiry. His cheeks are scarified, revealing his African origins.
There are ominous clouds in the sky. We hear THUNDER in the distance, which gets louder and closer throughout the ensuing scene.
Moise and Dessalines enter a clearing and lose themselves in a semi-circle of about two hundred black men. Most are shirtless and barefoot. The clearing is lit by torches and a bonfire. At the center of the semi-circle, stand BOUKMAN, JEAN FRANÇOIS, and a MULATTO in city clothes holding some papers. Not too far away, an OLD WOMAN sits by a pig which is tied to a stake. She is surrounded by gourds, bottles, and knives. Beside her stands a row of DRUMMERS.
Boukman is an enormous and ferocious-looking voodoo priest. Jean François wears an elegant and elaborate military tunic, festooned with gold braids, medals, fleur-de lis, and enormous epaulets. A huge cavalry sword dangles at his side. He wears a cocked hat with a white cockade and an enormous white plume. He is, however, barefoot.
. . . and I am telling you the king he is our friend, the friend
of the blacks. He knows we suffer. He knows we go hungry.
He knows our backs are scarred from the lash. He knows
our women are forced to lie in the bed of the white man.
And he weeps for us . . . yes, weeps.
The crowd AD LIBS: “Yes . . . Kill them all . . . Revenge!”
The king is so moved, an edict he has published giving us
Boukman turns to the mulatto.
Read them the edict now.
The crowd falls silent. The mulatto ceremoniously unrolls a scroll.
I, Louis Charles Henri Auguste George de Bourbon, who,
by the grace of God Almighty am King of France, Saint
Domingue, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and the islands known
as the Greater and Lesser Antilles, do hereby extend to
my loyal black subjects one more free day a week to
cultivate their plots of land granted to them by the Black
Code. I also forbid the use of more than forty lashes of the
whip as punishment for any non-free black subject within
The crowd breaks into spontaneous CHEERING. Boukman raises his arms and waits for the noise to subside.
Yes, my brothers, you see how our king cares for us. But
the whites will they listen? No! This edict they have
ignored. And now, the king they have thrown in prison.
And so the time has come we must fight for the king, fight
for our freedom.
More enthusiasm erupts from the crowd. Jean François steps forward and raises his arms until the crowd quiets.
(waits for the noise to subside)
I am Jean François, a slave just like you. But today I am a
slave no longer.
He draws his sword and holds it high in the air.
Today I am High Admiral and Generalissimo in the army
of the King, and Chevalier of the Order of Saint Louis!
The blacks cheer enthusiastically, Jean François puts his sword back in its scabbard.
Our friends the Spaniards, they promise us guns if we fight
for the King. They promise freedom to any man who fights
for the King.
More CHEERS from the crowd.
Go now to your plantations--rouse your brothers--burn
the fields--kill the whites--come to me in the Spanish
Territory. Strike fast--Strike hard!
Boukman raises his arms in the air and continues without missing a beat.
Our God he made the sun that gives us light.
He rouses the waves.
He rules the storm.
‘Though hidden in the clouds, He watches us
The god of the white man
He tells them to do evil.
Our God tells us to do good.
He will protect us and aid us in the fight.
The symbol of the white man’s god,
Throw it away!
Several in the crowd snatch crucifixes from around their necks and throw them to the ground.
This god he turns the cheek to suffering.
This god he dies meekly on the cross.
Listen to the voice of freedom.
This voice . . . it echoes in our hearts.
As Boukman finishes, the DRUMS pick up wildly and mix with the thunder. Illuminated by the
lightning flashes, the old woman holds a long dagger high in the air while chanting incomprehensibly. She slits the throat of the pig, catches the blood in the large bowl, and mixes it with rum and gunpowder. The men file up one by one and drink from the bowl. The closing shot is the face Dessalines, rising back from the bowl, covered with blood.
INT. ODELUC’S HOUSE
An elegant gentleman’s party. The guests are wearing the latest Parisian tailoring. A third of the men are in military attire. The room is richly furnished. A large feathered fan hangs from the ceiling and two black boys, one on each side of the room, pull on ropes to keep it moving.
Extraordinarily attractive BLACK GIRLS circulate among the men with trays of canapés and rum punch. These are Odeluc’s concubines. The thought of the grotesque Odeluc touching one of these exquisite creatures should nauseate the viewer. The men help themselves generously to the canapés and rum punch and take generous liberties with the girls. Suddenly, one of the girls SCREAMS as if she had been soundly pinched and drops her tray full of glasses. The men LAUGH. The girl quickly goes down on her knees to clean up the mess. A gentleman in military attire lifts up the back of her skirt with the point of his sword and takes a peek.
(noticing the man behind her)
She runs from the room in tears. The men think this is an enormous joke and LAUGH heartily. CLOSE IN ON a group of two planters and a military man.
I wonder how much Odeluc wants for that one. She’s a
Forget it. Odeluc collects girls from all over the
islands. And he’s as jealous as a Turk, they say.
And twice as rich.
And three times as fat!
They all LAUGH.
Enter Odeluc, ostentatiously. All heads turn towards the door. Several yell GREETINGS above the din of the room.
Welcome, gentlemen, welcome to my humble cottage.
Odeluc drifts into a party of military men.
I’m glad you could make it, Colonel. I’ve heard wonderful
reports about your regiment.
The COLONEL quickly swallows a mouthful of canapé.
I’m glad I came, too. These canapés are wonderful.
Ah yes, Christophe, my cook, is one of my prize
possessions. I intend to take him to France next season.
All the chefs in Paris will be furious, having a black for a
And the girls, monsieur! Where do you get them?
Ah, the girls! You may look, Lieutenant, but don’t touch. I
want to be envied, not ill.
The LIEUTENANT scowls, but the others laugh at him.
An older man talking to an officer. He is BAYOU DE LIBERTAS, Toussaint’s master. He is mousey and grey and not dressed as richly as the rest. The OFFICER is evidently bored and would like to move away.
. . . how interesting. And you find the climate suits you?
Well, I’ve hardly known any other. You see, I came here as
a very young man, an attorney for the Comte de Bréda. It
was my first assignment. And now I’m his estate manager.
How interesting. The Count is very fortunate, I’m sure.
And . . . ah . . . what do you grow?
Oh, sugar cane mostly. But we’ve just cleared some new
land. I want to get some coffee under cultivation up there.
But that takes five years before the first crop comes in.
How interesting . . .
Odeluc comes up behind Bayou.
M. Bayou--a word with you.
Excuse me, Major
The MAJOR moves quickly away. Bayou turns and faces Odeluc.
I had to rough up one of your boys this afternoon. I
caught him on the road, reading a book. Really, monsieur,
you should know better than to let niggers read. If you
weren’t an old friend, I’d report this to the Governor.
Why that would have been my overseer, old Toussaint.
But he’s harmless, almost a friend.
I would advise you, Bayou, to treat your slaves like other
planters do, if you don’t want trouble.
A BLACK SERVANT in elegant livery appears in the doorway.
Messieurs, dinner is served.
The men file noisily into the adjoining room. WE SEE an elegantly set dinner table. Near the head of the table, on a silver platter, lies a whole roast pig. BLACK SERVANTS in livery stand behind each chair.
The GUESTS sit down noisily, AD LIBBING: Bravo Odeluc . . .What a table . . . I’ve never seen the like, even in Paris . . .” The black servants pull out chairs for the guests, shake out their folded napkins, etc. Black girls circulate with bottles of champagne
After everyone is seated, the Colonel jumps up.
Gentlemen, the first toast should always go to the chef.
Slave or free, black or white, the creator of these culinary
delights deserves our gratitude. I intend to drink to him.
The guests APPLAUD the Colonel. Odeluc nods slightly and the servant behind him SNAPS his fingers at another servant near the kitchen door, who goes to fetch Christophe
Well said, Colonel.
Yes, let’s see this fellow.
CHRISTOPHE appears at the door and takes a few steps into the room. He is of medium height, but is thickly and powerfully built. He is bored by the entire proceeding. His sullen expression never changes throughout this scene.
Your health, monsieur,
May you outlive all the pigs in Saint Domingue!
Tell me, was your father a cook or did he eat his meat raw?
(breaks up laughing)
A SERVANT brings Christophe a glass of champagne. He drinks it quickly, bows slightly to the table, and disappears back into the kitchen.
What a sour fellow. Has some of the mulatto in him I
Who, Christophe? Oh, no. He’s safe. Pure African.
Gentlemen! It used to be that on occasions like this we
would drink to the health of the King and Queen. But today,
no longer need we waste wine on that idiot, Louis, and his
Austrian whore, since they are safely tucked away in the
Scattered SHOUTS of approval from the guests.
Now with the Royal Commissioners gone, we can sell to
whom we like, buy from whom we like, and set our own
prices. Gentlemen, the Revolution has come to enrich us.
Let us drink to the Revolution! To Liberty!
All raise glasses.
But, my friends, we cannot let that Parisian rabble, the
National Assembly, dictate colonial policy. The Mulatto
Laws must be resisted.
Scattered MURMURS of assent from the guests.
Do you smell smoke, monsieur?
Maybe it’s coming from the kitchen.
Odeluc whispers to the SERVANT behind him who goes off to the kitchen to inspect.
And while we’re on the subject, let’s curse the memory of Vincent Ogé, that vile mulatto traitor since it was his rebellion that got the Assembly to pass these vile laws in the first place.
Vincent Ogé was a martyr, not a traitor. The mulattoes and free blacks own just as much land and slaves as we do. We must have all men of property on the same side, no matter what their color.
Words of approval and disapproval spread among the guests, some heated. Bayou
The servant returns from the kitchen. Odeluc turns to him angrily.
Well, what is it?
The servant shrugs and shakes his head.
They’re probably burning trash in the courtyard again, the
fools. I’ve told them specifically not to do that.
Odeluc walks over to the window and draws the curtains himself. The entire horizon is suffused
with a distinct red glow.
Oh, my God!
What is it?
What do you see?
Several run to the window
The whole district’s on fire!
It’s the rising!
Immediately, all the men rise and draw weapons as if from nowhere, and point them at the
nearest black. The servants drop trays and bottles and run from the room. Others freeze.
Officers of the 27th, back to the garrison and wait for
orders from General Laveaux!
A BLACK in laborer’s clothes bursts into the room.
A look of sheer terror comes over Odeluc. He shoots the man dead. Everyone freezes momentarily.
For shame, monsieur; for shame!
He was a revolted slave. He came in here to kill me. It was
self-defense. You’re all witnesses.
(kneeling over the body)
He was unarmed, monsieur.
There’s no time to quibble. We’ve all got to get out of here,
or else we’ll all be dead like that poor bastard there.
The whites make a mad dash for the door. The blacks attack the pig.
EXT. STAIRWAY - NIGHT
Bayou stands on the stairs and looks around confusedly while PLANTERS and OFFICERS rush
frantically past him. He spots Toussaint off to the side of the courtyard standing with two horses, trying to get his attention. Bayou runs to the bottom of the stairs and turns to run toward Toussaint, but is knocked down by a fleeing officer.
Get out of my way, you old fool!
Bayou gets up on his hands and knees, somewhat dazed. Toussaint rushes forward to help him
and leads him back to the horses.
Oh, Toussaint! I’m so glad to see you. What’s happening?
You’d never make it back on the high road tonight, so I
brought a horse for you.
What’s happening at Bréda?
Most of the hands have run off, but I made them promise
not to burn Bréda. So it’s the safest place right now.
And my wife and daughter?
Oh, thank God!
Christophe appears behind them.
Oh, Christophe, it’s you.
I’m coming with you.
Christophe, you, a runaway? You were so comfortable
Comfort, Bah! I’d rather eat nuts and berries in the forest
than Odeluc’s delicacies.
M. Bayou can ride with me.
Really, Toussaint, this is highly irregular. I know I’ve been
very easy with you, but aiding a runaway, and sharing a
horse with a slave . . .
M. Bayou, you may still be my master and I your slave,
but if you want to get home alive, you’ll follow my orders.
For many years, I have depended on your good will.
Tonight, you must trust in mine.
Toussaint mounts deftly. Christophe picks up Bayou as if he were a bag of feathers and places
him on the horse behind Toussaint. He then mounts the other horse. They gallop off through
the courtyard in the opposite direction from the fleeing whites.
EXT. ROAD - NIGHT
Toussaint, Bayou and Christophe galloping down the high road. Lights appear in the distance.
Toussaint halts and motions to Christophe to get off the road. They dismount and lead their
horses into the tall brush.
A BAND OF BLACKS carrying torches comes down the road, men and women singing and
dancing drunkenly. They wear bits of planters’ clothing: knee breeches here, a swallowtail coat
there, perruques and cocked hats scattered throughout. A few women wear fancy dresses and
almost all wear jewelry. They brandish pitchforks, clubs, swords, knives, and one or two guns.
Their faces glisten in the torchlight. At the front of the procession, a man carries the head of a
white man on a pole.
Toussaint, Christophe, and Bayou watching from the protective cover of the tall brush.
My God! It’s Clément!
Toussaint puts his finger on Bayou’s mouth to keep him quiet. CLOSE IN on Toussaint’s face,
whose expression shows a mixture of anger and sorrow.
The procession passes.
The miserable savages! What have they done!
True, monsieur, they are savages. But then again, they
have not learned kindness from their masters.
Quiet, both of you! We’ll have to cut through to the back
road. The high road’s not safe anymore.
Toussaint grabs the bridle of his horse and leads him through the brush, but stops short when he
hears a RUSTLING ahead of him. He creeps through the brush to the sound. Christophe does
likewise. They find a BLACK WOMAN rocking back and forth, clutching a DEAD CHILD to her
bosom, and whimpering softly. She is very beautiful, although quite disheveled, bruised and
scratched. Her dress is elegant, although smeared with blood and mud. Her eyes are glassy.
She stares straight ahead and is oblivious to the presence of Toussaint and Christophe.
I know this woman. She is Thérèse, Clément’s mistress.
That child was his. That’s why they cut its throat.
She’s lucky they didn’t cut her throat, too.
Toussaint scoops out a shallow hole in the soft dirt with his hands. He carefully takes the baby
away from THÉRÈSE, places it in the hole and covers it with dirt. He closes his eyes for a few
seconds and then crosses himself.
We can’t leave her here, She’ll die
Christophe picks her up and carries her back the horses. He puts her across his saddle.
Lord, what an awful night!
For some, monsieur, for some.
They lead the horses off through the brush.
EXT. ROAD - DAWN
The RIDERS come slowly up the path in view of the main house at Bréda. Christophe holds up
Thérèse in front of him. Placide and Isaac run down the path, followed by MME. BAYOU and
PLACIDE AND ISAAC
Toussaint dismounts and helps Bayou off the back of the horse. Mme. Bayou embraces him, weeping.
Oh, you’re back, thank God! I was so afraid. So many
whites have been killed. I thought . . .
No, no. I’m alright, thanks to Toussaint.
Toussaint clasps Suzanne, but less emotionally than Bayou and Mme.
Here, I’ve brought someone who needs your help
Christophe hands Thérèse down to Suzanne and then dismounts. Thérèse stands aided by
Suzanne. She is still glassy-eyed and unaware of her surroundings.
Isn’t this Thérèse Clément? Where did you find her?
In the woods. Clément is dead, and so is her baby
They walk towards the house
Jean François was here, Papa.
Jean François? What does he want with me?
He wouldn’t say. But he’ll be back, noon, by the main gate.
He said he wouldn’t come in if M. Bayou were here.
EXT. ROAD - DAY
Toussaint is walking down the road toward the gate of Bréda. He comes to Jean François sitting
on a stump by his horse. Jean François is dressed as before, despite the noonday heat. He does
not get up as Toussaint approaches.
You wanted to see me, Jean; here I am.
Ah, Toussaint. I’m glad you came. Tell me, how do you
like my uniform?
You look like the pudding at the white man’s Christmas
I wouldn’t know about that. I’ve never seen a white man’s
Get to the point Jean. You didn’t come here to show me
I want to offer you a uniform. I need officers. You can
read; men will follow you. Come fight with us.
I’ll fight when I see fighting.
What have you seen, then? Tell me.
I’ve seen murder; I’ve seen looting. I haven’t seen any
What’s a little white blood? They’ll calm down soon
How will you feed people once you’ve burned all the land?
The Spaniards have promised us supplies.
The Spaniards! Will they free their slaves to fight with you?
You’re a fool, Toussaint. We take our friends where we
find them and don’t ask questions. For the last time, will
I can make it worth your while. Isn’t there anything you
As a matter of fact there is.
Name it. It’s yours.
I want safe passage into Le Cap for M. Bayou and time to
get my family into the mountains, away from the fighting.
You come cheap, Toussaint. I can give you money, land,
women. . . The Marquis d’Hermona says I’m going to be
a Spanish nobleman. I can get you a title, too.
I don’t need to be bribed to fight for my people.
You watch your tongue, you old fool. You won’t always
be able to talk to me like that.
Jean François mounts his horse and strikes a pose.
Remember, I’m a general, now
So long as it suits the Marquis.
Look, damn it. I’ll give you two weeks to take care of your
business. After that, Bréda will be attacked. Two weeks
you have my protection, no longer.
Jean François gallops off.
EXT. ROAD - DAY
A detachment of about thirty FRENCH SOLDIERS marches along the road. They are in battle
dress and carry rifles with bayonets. They look decidedly nervous. Two officers on horseback
have fallen behind by about fifty yards.
. . . and I still say there was no need to pull all units back
to Le Cap.
But these blacks are devils.
Once they meet regular troops, they’ll take to their heels
The detachment approaches a sharp bend in the road. The officers are temporarily cut off from
the view of their men. Moise and Dessalines dash out of the bushes. Dessalines jumps on the
back of one of the horses and garottes the rider, pulling him off the horse. Moise runs up behind
the other officer and bashes him over the head with a staff. Both officers are dead before they
knew what hit them. Moise continues pummeling his victim.
Stop it, Moise, he’s dead enough. Don’t get any blood on
As quickly as possible, Moise and Dessalines strip the officers and put o their uniforms, pistols,
and sabres. SOLDIERS run around the bend. Moise and Dessalines mount the horses and
escape in a hail of bullets.
EXT. CLEARING - DAY
About TWO HUNDRED FRENCH SOLDIERS stand in battle formation at one end of a large
clearing. Off to the side are several cannons. They are nervously watching a thousand or so
BLACKS advancing slowly from the other side of the clearing.
The advancing blacks. A line of VOODOO PRIESTS, led by Boukman, precedes the column.
They are posturing, grimacing, and dancing wildly, shaking amulets and SCREAMING incompre-
hensibly. Behind them, a line of WOMEN AND CHILDREN sways back and forth, MOANING
dolefully in unison. Behind them come the men, half-naked, armed with sticks, pitchforks,
machetes, etc., a few guns here and there. They are brandishing their weapons and TRILLING
at the top of their voices.
The French line. An OFFICER paces nervously in front of the troops. Suddenly, the blacks go dead
silent and stand perfectly still.
What in hell are the devils up to now?
He watches the blacks anxiously, unnerved by the silence. Slowly he raises his sword in the air.
His face grows tense and rigid. Finally, he whips his sword down and screams.
Fire! Damn it! Fire!
SHOTS ring out. The blacks charge the line of fire, SCREAMING deafeningly. The soldiers fire
and reload as quickly as they can. The blacks fall just as quickly. Boukman is among the first to
fall. The blacks keep on charging even though so many are dropping. They reach the line of fire,
and the French are firing point blank into a wall of black flesh. Finally, the blacks overrun the line
and fight the French hand-to-hand, driving them back.
EXT. CLEARING - SEVERAL HOURS LATER
Toussaint enters the battlefield on horse back. He glowers as he surveys the field of dead and
dying men. A WOUNDED MAN near him cries out.
Toussaint dismounts and helps the man with the water bottle from his saddle. A BOY comes
over to help him.
(to the boy)
Where is Jean François?
The boy points downfield. Toussaint remounts and gallops off. He finds Jean François sitting in
a fancy open carriage drawn by four horses. TWO WOMEN sit on either side. Toussaint pulls up
by the carriage.
Ah, Toussaint, I see you’ve come to join us after all.
This is shameful! How many men have you lost today?
Not as many as keep joining. You see, we tell them that if
they get killed, they wake in Africa. And they’d just as
soon die as not.
Jean François LAUGHS; the girls GIGGLE.
And you call yourself a general!
Actually, I’m a generalissimo; there are many generals
here. In fact, there’s not a man here any lower than a captain.
(laughs) What are you crying about, Toussaint, we beat the French
Take me to this Marquis of yours; I’ll have a word with him.
Excellent! I’m going there anyway. Climb in; climb in.
Toussaint dismounts, ties his horse to the back of the carriage, and gets in the coach. He sits
opposite Jean François and the girls, looking decidedly uncomfortable.
Allow me to introduce Mlle. Ste. Claire de Trois Riviéres
and Mlle. de Pomfret-Tremoille.
Toussaint nods severely. The girls giggle.
Driver, to Gallifet!
The coach moves off.
INT. GALLIFET ESTATE - DAY
Jean François and Toussaint walk through the halls of the Gallifet estate. There are signs of
looting: broken windows, slashed pictures, etc. A few Spanish officers, civil functionaries, and
black servants roam the halls also. No one pays much attention to Jean François and Toussaint.
They stop by a door guarded by a SENTRY.
Tell M. le Marquis that I am here.
The sentry disappears behind the door.
You should have picked up a uniform on the battlefield, a
cocked hat at least. The Marquis will think I’ve brought
him a field hand.
The sentry reappears.
The Marquis will see you now.
Jean François and Toussaint walk through the door. The MARQUIS D’HERMONA, a small man
wearing a modest white uniform, sits behind a desk studying some papers. His sabre hangs from
the back of his chair. He does not look up as the two blacks walk in.
Great news, sir, I have beaten the republicans today.
The Marquis continues to study his papers for a few seconds more and then looks up.
So I’ve heard, Jean, good news indeed. Who is this fellow
you’ve brought me.
This is the man I’ve been telling you about.
The Marquis gets up and walks around his desk. He studies Toussaint up and down as if
he were buying him.
Ah, yes, I remember. The name, again, is . . .
Toussaint, monsieur, Toussaint Bréda
Jean tells me you can read. Is this so?
Yes, monsieur, I was taught by my master.
Really! Tell me, what do you know of military affairs?
I have read Caesar’s Commentaries.
Yes, in Latin.
Impressive! My own officers can’t do that. I tell you what,
Toussaint; you are now Colonel Bréda. I am giving you a
regiment of 500 blacks.
I would like to accept your commission, monsieur, but I
have some conditions.
I shall choose my superior officers from among my own
people. But I want white petty officers to drill and train my men. If they are to fight European soldiers, they must learn European discipline.
Excellent! I approve! In fact, I can give you French officers.
I want regulation arms and uniforms for my men. If you want them to act like regular soldiers, they’ve got to look and feel like regular soldiers.
Approved! I’ll write out the orders today.
Eh! How come I never got any of these things?
You never asked for them, Jean.
I want to put on my banners, the words: No Reprisals.
I can see, Colonel, that we understand one another perfectly. Is there anything else I can do for you?
I have one more request. Do you have any French priests here? I wish to make confession.
Very good! There are a number of French Jesuits hereabouts. Jean, go and see if you can find Father Laxabon.
Jean François puts on his hat and storms out of the room.
I feel, señor, that I am standing in the presence of one on whom God’s grace is shining. May God be with you always, Colonel Bréda.
He salutes Toussaint.
Toussaint kneels before a PRIEST in a darkened room. The priest sits in a straight-backed chair.
A shaft of late afternoon sunlight, the only light in the room, lights up the priest’s bald head, his hands,
and the cross around his neck. These are set off against his long black cassock. His face is pasty-
white and deeply lined, his expression extremely stern.
Forgive me, father, for I have sinned.
What is your sin, my son?
Father, I am ambitious.
A grievous sin, my son. It is the sin that leads to the betrayal of masters, as Lucifer betrayed God the Father and Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ Our Lord. Tell me all that is in your heart.
I have been raised above my people today, father, and I feel it has been for a great purpose.
What is that purpose, my son?
My purpose is to free my people from the yoke of slavery and ignorance. My own servitude has been mild, thanks to a kind master. But the trials and punishments which I see my brothers undergo daily bite into my flesh like so many whips until I can stand it no longer. But even more than this, I feel the ignorance of their souls weigh me down like so many millstones around my neck. For how can a man know mercy when he is daily lashed into submission, or temperance when all has been denied to him? How can a woman know virtue when her body is not her own to control, or chastity when the husband of her bosom is sold away from her? This ignorance is the greatest evil done to my people, for it keeps them from the light of God. Father, I have read the Abbé Raynal, and I know that he waited for a black man to arise who would right the wrongs done to his race. I have prayed to be the Lord’s chosen instrument to redeem my people! And now, now, I feel stirrings in my soul that say it may be so!
(pauses and breathes deeply)
My son, you are in grievous error. The lot of everyone, from the lowliest slave to the mightiest king, has been appointed by Divine Wisdom. It is a mortal sin, the sin of pride, to question that wisdom. You may win your own freedom by fighting for the King, as you have been told.
But your people will only be free when your masters grant that freedom. And that can only happen when the King, their master, who has been divinely appointed to carry out the will of God on Earth, instructs them to do so. That is why you fight to restore to the King the right to so instruct his servants. The only hope for your people lies in defeating this vile scourge of Republicanism, which is the sin of pride and the sin of ambition. And when the King is restored to his rightful place in the eyes of God, then may we pray, as I shall pray daily, to the Lord Jesus and to the Blessed Virgin, who sits at the right hand of God, that the Holy Spirit, in its wisdom, instruct the King to free your people. You must renounce all ambition, my son.
But I want nothing for myself, nothing. I seek only to change the lot of my people.
And so Lucifer sought only to change the lot of a third of the host of Heaven, and was cast into Hell for his ambition, and became blackened, and became Satan. And you would change the lot of half the earth. Will you now repeat this first sin of all and say with Lucifer: I will not serve? My son, your sin is great. You must renounce this ambition and take a solemn vow that you fight solely to restore the rights of the King.
(pauses, takes a deep breath)
Father, you ask a great thing of me.
I ask the greatest thing of all, the salvation of your eternal soul, which at this moment is in great peril. Will you be corrected, my son?
I am corrected, father.
Will you serve your King?
I will serve, father
Will you swear on the body of Christ Our Lord?
Father, I swear.
Father Laxabon holds out the cross at the end of his rosary beads, and Toussaint Kisses it. He
then makes the sign of the cross over Toussaint.
Rise and go, my son. You are free from sin in the eyes of
Toussaint rises and goes.
BLACKS being issued uniforms; blacks being taught to march by WHITE DRILL INSTRUCTORS;
blacks being taught to load, fire, and reload by those same drill instructors; blacks being taught to
stand at attention and salute. In a more extended clip, Toussaint inspects his troops on horseback.
He wears a modest uniform; it bears all the insignia of his rank, but no excess decoration. He
wears a cocked hat with a white plume. His expression is stern. Behind him ride Christophe,
Moise, and Dessalines. They are likewise in uniform and share Toussaint’s stern expression.
The soldiers stand stiffly at attention, shouldering their arms. Bayonets glint in the sunlight.
Banners inscribed with: No Reprisals, wave in the wind.
Toussaint in action: Toussaint leading a cavalry charge, sabre in hand; Toussaint fighting hand
to hand in the midst of his men; Toussaint, giving the order to fire on a cavalry salient coming
towards him. Always, Toussaint is at the head of his men, always in the direct line of fire. Then
we see a white flag being raised over a fort, and the name, ENNERY, flashes on the screen;
another white flag over another fort and PLAISANCE; and then just names superimposed over
a white flag: GONAÏVES, VERRETTES; ST. MARC; ARCHAHAYE. At the end of this sequence,
we see Toussaint being carried on the shoulders of his cheering men.
EXT. TOUSSAINT’S ENCAMPMENT - NIGHT
Toussaint’s tent is lit from within by flickering candlelight. An ARMED SENTRY stands in front
of the tent. THREE FIGURES emerge out of the darkness.
Halt! Who goes there?
Corporal Davide! We bring a prisoner who wants to
speak to Col. Bréda.
Two Black corporals and a French officer walk toward the tent. Toussaint emerges from his tent,
leaving the flap open, which illuminates the scene.
What is it?
Major Pacot, 27th Bordeaux, at your service, Colonel!
Why have you come here, Major?
My men and I don’t want to fight any longer against a
Royalist force, especially yours. We want to join you.
Tell me, Major, do you not scorn to fight beside blacks?
I scorn to serve under no commander with your
reputation for prudence, wisdom, and bravery, whatever
Good, Major, you are welcome. What about the rest of
It’s about half and half, sir. Col Brandicourt, as usual,
Go back to your men tonight, Major. You’ll hear from me
EXT. THE FRENCH CAMP - DAY
Christophe and two adjutants approach the French camp on horseback, bearing a white flag.
A LINE OF OFFICERS stands at the entrance of the camp, waiting for him.
State your business.
My commander, Col. Bréda would like to parley with Col.
COL. BRANDICOURT steps forward.
A parley? Hunph! I’ll not parley with that orangutan.
Hey, don’t I know you?
(thinks for a moment)
Odeluc’s dinner! That’s it! I never did get to eat that pig.
If you came, monsieur, I could cook another one.
Hunph! Tell your commander I won’t go to any parley
invited by a cook.
Major Pacot steps forward and pulls Col. Brandicourt aside.
Excuse me, Colonel, that orangutan outnumbers us by
five hundred. He has more horses, more cannons, and
more experienced troops than we have.
Col. Brandicourt walks slowly back to Christophe.
On second thought, young man, maybe I’ll go hear what
this commander of yours has to say.
Boucher, Gabillon, you come with me.
EXT. TOUSSAINT’S CAMP - DAY
Christophe and Brandicourt walk towards Toussaint’s tent. The two French adjutants walk
behind. Christophe motions for Brandicourt to enter the tent. Brandicourt goes through the
flaps and sees Toussaint sitting at a table directly in front of him.
Welcome, Colonel, you are my prisoner.
Brandicourt turns around and sees Moise and Dessalines holding pistols on him.
What the hell kind of trick is this?
You’ll come to no harm provided you do as you’re told.
Dessalines comes forward and removes Brandicourt’s sabre.
Sit down, Colonel. I’d like you to write a letter to your
men, telling them to lay down their arms.
Brandicourt sits down in front of paper, pen, ink, and a lit candle. He writes. When he finishes,
Toussaint snatches the paper away from him. A look of horror comes over Brandicourt’s face.
Pacot: These infernal apes are holding me prisoner. Do
as you see fit.
(rips up the letter)
You really are a pathetic fool, Colonel. Now write what I
tell you or you’re a dead man.
Brandicourt takes a fresh sheet of paper and dips his pen.
Pacot: We are hopelessly outmatched. Lay down your
Toussaint picks up the paper, reads it, and hands it back to Brandicourt.
Sign it and seal it.
Brandicourt signs the paper, folds it, drips wax over the fold and presses his ring into the wax.
Very good, Colonel.
EXT. ENTRANCE TO TOUSSAINT’S CAMP - DAY
Major Pacot leading his regiment into Toussaint’s camp under a white flag. Toussaint and his
officers await him. Pacot halts the regiment, dismounts, walks over to Toussaint, and salutes.
Toussaint returns the salute and then clasps Pacot’s hand, smiling. He turns to address the
Those of you who wish to join my regiment may keep your
arms. The rest of you are my prisoners. You shall be
EXT. THE SPANISH CAMP - DAY
The MEN OF THE 27TH, under arms, marching into the Royalist base camp. The Marquis
d’Hermona stands by the side, looking confused. He sees Toussaint riding past and addresses
See here, Col. Bréda. What do you mean bringing all
these armed Frenchmen into my camp?
These are my soldiers, Marquis. They have just joined
The Marquis grins and shakes his head incredulously.
EXT. THE SPANISH CAMP - DAY
Toussaint stands on a rise overlooking the camp. He stands under a tree, contemplating
the hustle and bustle of the camp spreading out below him. A RIDER approaches up the hill.
He dismounts, walks over to Toussaint, and salutes. Toussaint returns the salute and the rider
hands him a dispatch. Toussaint reads the dispatch thoughtfully. He stands silently for a few
seconds and then turns to the messenger.
Summon my general staff. Tell them to be at my quarters
in one hour. Then tell Father Laxabon I want to see him
INT. TOUSSAINT’S TENT
Toussaint, Christophe, and Dessalines sit around a table. Moise enters and takes a seat.
Gentlemen, I can now tell you that I have been in secret
communication with General Laveaux for over a year.
The men look at each other, questioningly.
He first contacted me when the new commissioner,
Sonthonax, freed the blacks in St. Domingue. He urged
me to fight for the Republican cause since that’s where the
true interest of the blacks lay.
And you refused?
I reminded him that the Convention could rescind the
order at any time. I told him I would wait to hear what
that body had to say. I am convinced, though, that
General Laveaux is an honest and honorable man, a
sincere republican, and a friend of the blacks.
A friend of the blacks!
Do not forget, Col. Moise, that you fight for a slave power,
especially since the King was executed and our regiment
was taken into the Spanish army proper. Also do not
forget that you owe your promotion to your zeal in Spain’s
I fight for you, not Spain.
Why do you tell us this now?
I just heard the planters and their agents have been
kicked out of the Convention which has unanimously
voted to abolish slavery in all the French colonies.
What will you do?
I cannot fight for a slave power against a free power.
Let’s join the French!
Not me! The French aren’t doing very well these days. At
least with the Spanish we have our own freedom. Let’s
say we join the French and the French are defeated. We
go back to cutting cane.
I’m afraid Col. Dessalines may be right.
Why don’t you join the French, Toussaint. That’s where
your heart is. You’re not afraid of the odds. We didn’t
start out with much of a chance, either.
I cannot fight for France. I intend to resign my commission
The men look at each other blankly.
You don’t make any sense.
I have reasons I cannot tell you, but I cannot fight for
The Marquis won’t let you resign. He’ll arrest you.
Come what may, I intend to resign. You, gentlemen, may
do as you wish.
They exit. Father Laxabon enters.
You sent for me, General?
Yes, Father, I wish to make confession.
Toussaint gets up and walks over to his cot and sits on the edge. Father Laxabon sits on a
stool next to him.
Father, when I first went to you at Gallifet, that day, you instructed me to take a vow to fight for the King, and I did so.
Yes, my son, I remember it well.
And when the King was executed, you told me that my duty lay in fighting for the King of Spain and for the line of Bourbon, and I have done so.
Yes, yes, I’ll never forget these things.
At that time, I was made a general, and I am grateful for that and for all the honors and rewards that have been given me.
None that you haven’t earned, my son. Why, thanks to you, the Spanish control the eastern half of the colony, while the British hold much of the west and south. Yes, we’ll soon put an end to these rascally republicans; although, God forgive me, I thought I’d never see the day when I’d be allied to a Protestant . . .
Hear me, Father.
Yes, my son.
I wish to be released from my vow.
What! That’s impossible! Whatever could have led you to such a thought?
The French have abolished slavery. I cannot fight against a free power.
Your vow compels you to fight for royalty.
No, Father! my vow compels me to fight only for royalty. If you do not release me from my vow, I will fight no more.
I cannot release you from your vow. Only God can do that.
Has this ever happened?
It would be a miracle; God must send you a sign.
Then I will pray for a miracle.
No. my son. It is sinful to wish to be released from your vow. It is sinful to expect a miracle. Unless you devote your entire spirit to keeping your vow, you are in a state of sin.
Father Laxabon rises.
I cannot give you absolution. If you take Holy Communion at mass tomorrow, you do so at the peril of your soul.
Father Laxabon exits.
EXT. IN FRONT OF THE CAMP CHAPEL - THE NEXT MORNING
Spanish officers are filing into the camp chapel for mass. Toussaint is greeted by the Marquis
d’Hermona, who is walking with a rather DANDIFIED GENTLEMAN.
Oh, General Bréda, may I introduce his Grace Don Carlos
de Arrastia. His Grace especially wanted to meet the
famous General Bréda before leaving Santo Domingo for
I am honored, Your Grace.
General Bréda will of course join us for breakfast after
mass at the Marquis’ quarters.
INT. CAMP CHAPEL
They continue into the chapel. Black officers sit on the left side, white officers on the right.
Toussaint takes his seat front row left, the Marquis and the Duke, front row right. Father
Laxabon stands at the altar, intoning the mass.
LATER IN THE MASS. A line of men, black and white, kneel before the altar and wait to take
Communion, Toussaint among them. Father Laxabon puts a wafer into the mouth of each man,
says: “In nomine Patris, Filiis, et Spiritu Sanctu, Amen,” makes the sign of the cross, and moves
on to the next man. He comes to Toussaint and pauses. Glaring down at him, he puts the
wafer in his mouth and recites the blessing.
CLOSE IN ON the Marquis and the Duke.
I tell you, Your Grace, if God himself came to Earth this
day, He could find no purer soul than General Bréda.
EXT. THE MARQUIS’ QUARTERS - NOON
The Marquis and the Duke sit at a table in front of the Marquis’ tent. The table is spread with
food. Servants and sentries stand about. Toussaint rides up. He is dressed in the plantation
laborer’s clothes he wore when he first met the Marquis at Gallifet. He dismounts and walks
over to the table, carrying a letter.
What’s the meaning of this, general?
I am resigning my commission. I no longer wish to fight
He hands the Marquis the letter
This is absurd! I cannot possibly accept this
(rips up the letter)
You are much too dangerous to have on anybody’s side
but my own.
Toussaint leaps to his horse and turns to the Marquis.
Goodbye, Marquis, I loved you well.
He gallops off. The marquis runs over to a nearby black sentry, YELLING.
Shoot that man! He’s a traitor!
The sentry doesn’t move. The marquis knocks him down.
Do as you’re told, you blockhead!
He yells at a white soldier.
Bring that man back to me! Dead or alive, I want him;
dead or alive!
The white soldier runs off.
EXT. A PLAIN - DAY
Toussaint is being chased across the plain by a troop of WHITE HORSEMEN. Toussaint leaps
over a wide gully and continues galloping on the other side. His pursuers pull up short, not daring
the same leap. The fire their pistols across the gully, but Toussaint is already out of range.
INT. TOUSSAINT’S SLAVE COTTAGE
Toussaint, in his laborer’s clothes, sleeps in his cottage at Bréda. Christophe, in uniform, is
sitting by his cot. Toussaint wakes slowly, as if from a deep sleep. He rubs his eyes and sees
Christophe! What are you doing here?
We’ve been looking for you for days. I finally guessed
you’d be here.
Toussaint sits up. Christophe gets up and walks around.
What news, Christophe?
You mean you haven’t heard?
Heard what? I haven’t seen a soul since I left camp.
The mulattos have seized Le Cap to prevent the Emancipation. They’re going to turn it over to the British so they can keep their slaves. Laveaux is a prisoner.
Oh Christophe, if I still commanded an army, I’d do something about this.
What would you do, Toussaint?
I’d make an overnight march to Le Cap and mass my forces at dawn at the eastern side of the city, leaving the west open. That way, if they chose to fight, they’d have the sun in their eyes. If they chose to run, they’d have an open path to their precious British allies. They’d be so surprised at seeing us they’d run out the back door. We could take the city without firing a shot, free that good old man, Laveaux, and publish the Emancipation decree. What an opportunity!
What’s keeping you? Let’s do it!
I fight no more. You know that, Christophe.
Why don’t you try explaining that to your army?
What are you talking about?
Look outside, you old fool!
Toussaint opens the door, and there, in the canefield beside his cottage, stand six thousand black
soldiers in parade drill formation. Major Pacot also stands before his white regiment. Toussaint
staggers in disbelief.
It’s the sign! It’s true! I am the one Raynal said would
come! Leave me Christophe.
Christophe exits. Toussaint sits on a bench by a table, his head in his hands. Finally, he looks up.
Oh Lord, You have given me the only thing I ever wanted. You have chosen me to lead my people out of darkness. Stay by me always and guide my hand in Your work, O Lord. I know I will be accused of being ambitious. My God, I pray that it not be so.
EXT. TOUSSAINT’S COTTAGE
Toussaint emerges in full uniform. He walks over to a beautiful white stallion which is being
held for him, mounts and turns to his troops.
We fought for Spain and won our freedom.
To keep our freedom--we fight for France!
Long live France!
Long live France!
Long live the Revolution!
Long live the Revolution!
Long live Liberty!
Long live Liberty!
Toussaint draws his sword and holds it high in the air.
We march on Le Cap!
The troops break out in prolonged, spontaneous CHEERING. The stallion rears at the noise,
and when it settles, Toussaint rides off at the head of his army.
EXT. THE EASTERN GATE OF LE CAP - DAWN
A MULATTO SENTRY sleeps on a stool leaning up against the sentry box. A ray of sunlight
strikes his face. He blinks and stretches. Once his eyes are fully open, he sees Toussaint’s
army in battle formation before the city. He does a doubletake, and a look of sheer terror
comes over his face
Holy Mother of God!
He falls out of his chair, picks himself up, and runs back to the officer’s quarters, screaming.
Captain . . . Captain!
INT. OFFICER’S QUARTERS
The CAPTAIN, who is slightly obese, is shaving in front of a tiny mirror. The sentry bursts
into the room.
What is it?
There’s ten thousand armed blacks outside! Twenty
That's impossible! How did they get there?
Who knows? They dropped from the sky, maybe!
The Captain hurriedly grabs his tunic and his hat and rushes outside without bothering to wipe
the lather from his face.
EXT. THE MULATTO POSITION INSIDE THE WALLS
The Captain runs to the battlements simultaneously trying to button his tunic and hold on to his
hat. He peers over the walls, dumbfounded. Other mulatto soldiers likewise peer over the walls,
MUTTERING, and crossing themselves.
What do we do now, Captain?
Let me think; let me think! They didn’t teach about this at
The Captain turns away from the wall and buries his face in his hands thoughtfully for about
three seconds. Then, with a look of grim determination, he yells.
The mulatto soldiers drop their guns and run from the battlements into the city. From somewhere,
a BUGLE sounds the signal to retreat.
EXT. TOUSSAINT’S POSITION BEFORE THE CITY
Toussaint sits mounted in front of his army.
Dessalines rides forward.
Take one hundred cavalry and surround Government
House. Don’t go in, but let no one out.
Dessalines motions for an officer to follow and rides off through the unattended gates at the
head of a troop of horses.
Toussaint turns to address his men.
The city is ours! Do not break ranks. Do not fire unless
Shoulder arms! Forward march!
EXT. CITY STREETS - DAY
Toussaint leads his men through the city. Jubilant blacks and whites CHEER from the
rooftops and windows. In the streets, people throw flowers and rush out and try to touch
EXT. BEFORE GOVERNMENT HOUSE - DAY
Toussaint dismounts in front of Government House and walks up the steps in the company of
his chief officers. An OFFICER opens the door and Toussaint strides in purposefully.
INT. GOVERNMENT HOUSE
Toussaint is greeted by about TWENTY MULATTO OFFICERS staring at him in stony silence.
Some of them draw swords and pistols.
I have taken the city. You should have fled when you had
the chance. Put up your arms, and you shall not be
harmed. You see how I repay your treachery.
1ST MULATTO OFFICER
You dare talk to us of treachery!
2ND MULATTO OFFICER
Your mercy is as hateful as your victory!
He draws his sword and rushes at Toussaint but is SHOT dead by Moise who is standing
(shaking his head)
The first shot fired in this business; pray there are no more.
(to a black officer)
Take these fools to the city dungeons and bring General
Exit mulatto officers under guard.
INT. LAVEAUX’S CELL
LAVEAUX sits on a cot in his cell, his chin resting on his hands. He is about 60, balding
and grey. He wears a dressing gown and is barefoot, but manages to convey his dignity
despite his disheveled appearance. Laveaux stares listlessly into space. Suddenly, the door
to his cell swings open and a BLACK OFFICER steps inside. Laveaux looks up, confusedly.
You are free, General. General Bréda has taken the city.
Has Toussaint come? Oh, thank God, my prayers have
He walks out the door and down the hallway, the black officer by his side. Other prisoners are
being released from their cells.
(to the black officer, while walking.)
Do you know what they did to me? They dragged me out
of bed and beat me with sticks and wouldn’t even let me send
for my slippers. Toussaint, here . . . Amazing . . .Would
you send someone for my slippers?
INT. GOVERNMENT HOUSE
Laveaux, dressed as before, enters through the front door of Government House and eyes
the black officers curiously.
The two walk toward each other and embrace warmly.
I knew you’d come. As soon as the Emancipation was
official, I knew you’d come.
Laveaux stands clasping Toussaint by the shoulders. Toussaint is slightly embarrassed.
A BLACK SOLDIER enters, carrying Laveaux’s slippers.
Your slippers, General.
Laveaux puts them on. CHEERING is heard outside.
The crowd calls you, General. They want to see that their
governor is safe.
No, my friend. You are the hero, today.
EXT. GOVERNMENT HOUSE
A huge crowd of blacks and whites surrounds the entrance. Toussaint and Laveaux appear
in the doorway, and the crowd CHEERS.
Citizens! Here stands your hero. Here stands the black
Spartacus whose coming was prophesied by the Abbé
Raynal. Everywhere, he has made an opening for his
people. Here stands Toussaint L’Ouverture!
The crowd picks up the chant
Toussaint L’Ouverture . . .Toussaint L’OUVERTURE . . . (etc.)
Toussaint is overcome with emotion. He waits for the crowd to stop and stands thoughtfully
for a few seconds.
After God . . . Laveaux!
The crowd starts CHEERING again.
EXT. FRONT DOOR OF A TOWN HOUSE - DAY
Toussaint stands alone at the front door and rings the bell. A BLACK SERVANT opens the door.
General L’Ouverture to see the Commissioner Sonthonax.
Come this way, sir. The Citizen Commissioner is expecting
INT. TOWN HOUSE
The servant shows Toussaint into a side room containing a large desk strewn with papers.
SONTHONAX stands off to one side with his back to Toussaint, looking out a large French
window which lets out onto a garden.
Sonthonax turns around. He is sallow and lank, as if he has spent too much time lurking about
in dark corridors. He is wigless, and his black hair hangs limply down the side of his face. There
is something lizard-like and conspiratorial about him. (Throughout the ensuing scene, he avoids
looking Toussaint in the eyes.)
Welcome, Citizen General L’Ouverture. As soon as I got
off the boat, I heard about nothing but your glorious victory. Congratulations!
Thank you, sir.
We’ll settle those mulatto traitors. They can’t be trusted, I
tell you, not a one. It’s that drop of white blood makes
them treacherous. I suspect Rigaud’s hand in this late affair.
If you move against General Rigaud, I suggest you do so very carefully. He is powerful in the south and will not welcome interference.
My orders are to enforce the Emancipation decree, which I intend to do to the letter, I tell you, to the letter. I’ll brook no interference either. But tell me, Citizen General, when I left Saint Domingue, you were my enemy; when I return, you are my friend. Why didn’t you leave the Spanish when I first decreed the abolition of slavery?
I doubted only your authority, monsieur, not your intentions.
Good, I like caution in a man. But I tell you, we may not be there yet.
(lowers his voice)
I have plans I can tell no one else. Let’s talk in the garden. I spent enough time in Paris to know that rooms have ears . . . and tongues, too.
Sonthonax turns abruptly, opens the french windows, and walks out into the garden. Toussaint
hesitates momentarily, but follows him.
EXT. GARDEN - DAY
Sonthonax walks slowly and wipes his forehead with a large handkerchief.
I love the people of Saint Domingue, General, but your sun loves me not. If I had your color, I could bear it better.
If you were my color, monsieur, you would have no choice. Now what is it you want to tell me?
The Convention passed Emancipation by acclamation, but it left a sour taste in their mouths. They wouldn’t have done it if the rabble outside hadn’t been pounding on the windows, screaming for it. As long as the Convention
fears the people we are safe. But even as I left Paris,
deputies were making speeches calling for the restoration of order in the colonies. And you know what that means. We can’t trust the planters, I tell you, not a one. They’ll always be plotting behind our backs.
You don’t understand white men, monsieur. If you leave them no choice, they’ll come around to your point of view. White men in Paris and white men in Saint Domingue are two different creatures. I do not fear white men in Paris.
Nor do I, so long as the people reign supreme. But already, the French are losing their taste for revolution.
What do you suggest?
We declare independence--a black republic . . . me as president, you as commander-in-chief.
What about the British?
We‘ll make treaties with the British.
Treaties! Do you think the British will be bound by treaties once they see our weakness? Once they see we are no longer backed by the armed might of France? What about the whites who are here?
We’ll set up guillotines in the public squares and rid ourselves of these aristocrats of the skin, just as our brothers in France rid themselves of the aristocrats of the blood.
And if we kill all the whites, Citizen Commissioner, what shall we do with you?
Toussaint turns abruptly and walks away. Sonthonax stares after him, dumbfounded.
INT. A MEETING HALL IN LE CAP
The hall is filled with whites and mulattoes, milling about, chatting. Three bewigged gentlemen
sit behind a table on a platform at the front of the hall. A lectern stands off to one side. The MAN
in the middle rises and bangs a gavel.
I now call to order this meeting of the Electoral
Commission of Saint Domingue. As property owners, it is
our duty to send representatives to the Chamber of
Deputies. Anyone who . . .
Suddenly, the doors of the hall spring open and a burst of sunlight fills the room. Moise enters
with pistol drawn, followed by a dozen black soldiers. The speaker stops and stares, open-
mouthed, as Moise and the others mount the platform.
Moise stands at the lectern, putting his pistol down before him. He nods politely to the speaker.
If you will excuse me.
The speaker sits down, never changing the astonished expression on his face.
Gentlemen, General Toussaint L’Ouverture has asked me
to present his slate of candidates for the Chamber of
Deputies. He would have come himself, but as he is
currently engaged driving the British from Port-au-Prince, he has sent myself and about two hundred others of your friends to help your deliberations.
About a dozen PLANTERS bolt for the door.
EXT. THE FRONT STEPS OF THE HALL
As soon as the planters get past the door, they are met by black soldiers who force them
back in at bayonet point.
Moise still stands at the lectern.
General L’Ouverture would like you to consider sending Citizen General Laveaux and Citizen Commissioner Sonthonax to represent us in Paris.
The crowd MURMURS in astonishment.
But that would leave L’Ouverture the most powerful man on the island!
That scoundrel! He’ll never get away with this.
General L’Ouverture has told me that he would appreciate a unanimous vote.
A planter sneaks off to the side of the hall, stuffs a curtain out the window and begins to
The planter gets about two feet below the window when a black soldier beneath him prods
him ever so gently on the buttocks with his bayonet. The planter, MUTTERING CURSES,
climbs back up the curtain and in through the window.
EXT. TOUSSAINT’S FIELD HEADQUARTERS - DAY
A manor house near the front lines. We briefly see the hustle and bustle of a military encamp-
ment in the surrounding fields.
INT. TOUSSAINT’S STUDY
Toussaint is writing at a table. WE HEAR Sonthonax’s voice outside.
But I must see the general right away, I tell you, right away.
Get out of my way!
Sonthonax bursts into the room. Toussaint looks up briefly as Sonthonax enters, but continues
What do you mean having me sent to Paris? I won’t go, I
tell you, I won’t go!
You can’t force me, and you know it.
Laveaux is going, which makes me commander-in-chief.
I can deport you if you refuse.
But why do you do this to me? Am I not a friend of the
blacks? It was I, don’t forget, who first ended slavery. My
own people hate me and call me traitor.
Ever since our first little interview, you’ve tried to
undermine me, trying to influence my officers, withholding supplies . . .
You have no proof of these things!
Do you take me for a fool!
(wringing his hands, imploringly)
I would have made you supreme in your own black republic.
Every time a white man has some dirty work to do, he gets a black to do it for him . . . I’ve stopped fetching.
Sonthonax POUNDS on the table.
You won’t get away with this! I’ll denounce you to the Directory!
Toussaint looks Sonthonax squarely in the eyes.
I do not fear white men in Paris.
EXT. THE WATERFRONT AT LE CAP - DUSK
Laveaux stands in front of the ship that is to take him back to France. Adjutants stand around.
Porters carry crates and chests onto the ship.
Toussaint rides up in an open carriage with Suzanne, Placide and Isaac. They all climb down
from the carriage. Toussaint walks over to Laveaux and clasps him warmly.
In all my life, as slave and as commander, you’re the only man I’ve met I can trust completely. You are too good for this place. Someone will always be taking advantage of you.
You’re right; I know that. But why Sonthonax? People don’t understand that.
I won’t discuss Sonthonax. He must go. That’s all.
The Directory will only send another commissioner who may not be so friendly to the blacks.
All the more reason to have you in Paris telling the world about us.
Already they say you’re ambitious, that you only want power for yourself.
I don’t want any doubts about my loyalty to France. That’s why I’m sending my sons with you to Paris, to get educated.
You know I can refuse you nothing. I’m honored that you put your sons in my care.
The boys approach. Toussaint puts his arms around them.
It’s time to go, now. I want you to study hard and become good Frenchmen. And for that, you can have no better model than General Laveaux.
Toussaint embraces the boys. They run to Suzanne who hugs then and fusses over them.
Toussaint and Suzanne stand hand in hand and watch Placide and Isaac board the ship,
followed by Laveaux and the adjutants.
EXT. THE BRITISH CAMP - DAY
British soldiers stand in parade drill formation. A contingent of British officers await Toussaint’s
arrival. Prominent among them is GENERAL MAITLAND, an imposing looking man with grand
mustachios who looks as though he is most comfortable when standing at attention.
Toussaint rides up, followed by an entourage of black officers. Toussaint dismounts and walks
over to Maitland, who salutes Toussaint and grasps his hand warmly.
You may be a nigger, sir, but I've never been beaten by a
Thank you, General.
Your campaign was simply brilliant. . . . Couldn’t have
been better if you had learned it at Sandhurst. I would be
honored, sir, if you would review my troops.
They walk up and down the rows of British soldiers who stand stiffly at attention. Toussaint is
sincerely impressed by British spit and polish.
And now, sir, I’ve had some dinner prepared while we
Maitland leads Toussaint to an elegantly laid table under a marquee. They sit down. A servant
approaches and fills their wineglasses.
I’ll have some water if you don’t mind.
Very good, sir.
Throughout the ensuing scene, Maitland eats constantly and drinks several glasses of wine.
Toussaint picks at his food every now and then and never touches his wine.
And now let’s talk. But before we discuss any terms, I
must insist that you grant amnesty to those planters who
cooperated with us.
Had it not been your request, General, it would have been one of mine. It has always been my policy to grant a general amnesty in all areas I liberate.
Good, that’s understood, then. Well, on behalf of His Majesty, I have a very generous offer to make you.
The servant returns with a glass of water. Toussaint pauses to allow Maitland a few moments
I’d be very interested to hear it.
His Majesty is prepared to recognize you as King of Saint
Domingue and to give you the protection of the British fleet
if you will sign an exclusive trade agreement with Great
A wry smile spreads over Toussaint’s face. He chuckles momentarily.
No, general, I’m afraid I shall have to turn down His
Majesty’s most generous offer.
Maitland comes close to choking on a piece of meat and then gulps the contents of his wine glass.
What! . . . won’t be king . . . Gad, sir, why not!
To be subjects of a tiny kingdom in the middle of the sea, surrounded by His Majesty’s warships--No, General, there’s no glory for my people in that. But to be free and equal citizens of the French Republic and to be acknowledged by the world as Frenchmen--why there’s glory and safety, too. And while I am well aware of Mr. Pitt’s good intentions in trying to stop the slave trade, I know better than to trust the freedom of my people to a slave power.
Gad, sir, you’re too deep for me. I’m just a soldier; I leave the thinking to the politicians.
But I have no difficulty with a trade agreement with His Majesty . . .
Now that I understand.
. . . provided the Americans are brought in.
(makes a sour face)
Must you have the Americans?
You forget, General, it was you who asked for peace terms, not me.
Very well, then, the Americans. Well, that’s it then.
One more thing, General. You came here with 16,000 black soldiers; how many of those are left?
Oh, I don’t know; 6,000 maybe
What’s to happen to those men?
I suppose they’ll be taken back to Jamaica and sold.
I can’t allow it. As part of the agreement, they are to remain in Saint Domingue as free men.
And you’re to give them six months back pay.
You’re not making this any easier to get past Whitehall, you know.
Freedom, General, is never convenient.
INT. THE OUTER OFFICE OF TOUSSAINT’S CHAMBERS IN LE CAP
About twenty WHITE PLANTERS stand around or sit on the chairs and sofas and chat in small
groups. Among the planters is Bayou de Libertas. CLOSE IN on the group containing Bayou.
I don’t like this one bit, being called to heel by an upstart
I don’t like it either, but I don’t see that we have much
Oh, you fellows are wrong, dead wrong.
The other planters eye him coldly.
General L’Ouverture used to be my slave, my overseer. When the uprising started, he sent me and my family to Baltimore, and he’s been sending me money ever since. I owe everything to that man. You’ve nothing to fear from him, nothing . . .
The door to the inner office opens and two OFFICERS, one white, one black, walk out.
A WHITE SECRETARY comes to the door.
Gentlemen, General Toussaint L’Ouverture.
All rise. Toussaint steps into the room. Bayou, overcome, rushes forward to embrace Toussaint.
Oh Toussaint! It’s so good to . . .
Toussaint shunts Bayou aside with a gesture.
Take care, monsieur. There is a far greater distance
between us now than there ever was between master
But Toussaint . . . I mean, General . . . Your Excellency . . .
Bayou fades into a mutter.
Gentlemen, you are invited back and your past sins forgiven because Saint Domingue needs you. We want you to manage your estates well and to prosper, but the conditions are these: So long as you give a quarter of your profits to the laborers and half to the state, you may reserve a quarter for yourselves, enjoy your property, and pass it on to your heirs. Otherwise your estates will be confiscated. Times have changed. The blacks are no longer yours to command. But you will find that free laborers, men who can reap the fruits of their toil, will tend your fields far better than ever slaves did.
But the blacks will kill us.
All returning planters are under my protection. If you have a problem with the laborers, you take it up with your district commissioner. If you are not satisfied, you take it up with me. You will not be harmed; you have my word.
The planters exit. Some of them GRUMBLE ON THE WAY OUT.
INT. TOUSSAINT’S INNER OFFICE
Toussaint enters and sits at his desk. The secretary follows. On his desk are two jars, one
filled with black powder, the other with white corn.
I’ll be going to my estate at Ennery for a few weeks. Send word to General Moise to join me. Tell him General Dessalines is already there.
Yes sir. There’s a delegation of laborers to see you, sir.
The secretary exits and FIVE BLACK LABORERS enter the main office. They are ragged and
barefoot and ill-at-ease among the furniture. They are awe-struck at the sight of Toussaint and
stand sheepishly in the doorway. The oldest among them is white-haired and walks with a staff.
Toussaint rises as they enter.
Come in, gentlemen. Have a seat. What can I do for you?
The old man takes a seat in front of the desk. Toussaint sits down after him. The others remain
standing. They look at each other shyly. Finally, the old man speaks.
It’s the whites, sir. We thought they were gone for good,
but now they’re back among us. We’re afraid they’ll
make slaves of us again.
Toussaint sighs thoughtfully and gestures toward the jars on his desk.
Gentlemen, look at these jars.
He points to the jar full of black powder.
This jar is you, the laborers of Saint Domingue.
He reaches into the jar of white corn and sprinkles a few kernels on top of the black powder.
Here are the whites.
He shakes the jar, and the white kernels disappear beneath the surface.
You have nothing to fear from the whites.
EXT. THE ROAD TO ENNERY - DAY
Toussaint rides a magnificent white stallion. Next to him rides Moise. Behind them is a coach and
twenty or so cavalry officers, black and white, Toussaint’s personal bodyguard. The road is lined
with laborers who doff their hats and bow their heads as Toussaint passes. We see laborers running
from the fields to line the roads before the procession. Toussaint nods and smiles at the people;
Moise sits sternly erect. Suddenly, an eight year old girl runs from the side of the road and grabs
Papa Toussaint! Papa Toussaint!
Toussaint stops, and officer behind him YELLS an order to halt. The procession stops. Toussaint
Who knows this child?
An OLD MAN steps forward.
Where are her parents?
Then Papa Toussaint it shall be.
Toussaint dismounts, puts the girl in the saddle, and remounts behind her. As he moves forward,
the laborers start chanting loudly.
Papa Toussaint! . . . Papa Toussaint! . . . (etc.)
Toussaint doffs his hat in acknowledgement and smiles broadly.
EXT. THE GARDEN AT ENNERY - DAY
THÉRÈSE sits under a large tree, reading a book and thoughtfully munching an apple. She is
tastefully dressed as a French country gentlewoman, which, in fact, she is, and is radiantly beautiful.
A large straw bonnet rests on the ground beside her.
Suddenly, Dessalines drops out of the tree and lands beside her, holding a nosegay. Thérèse
SCREAMS and throws her book and her apple in the air. She puts her hand to her breast and
catches her breath for a few moments.
Oh, General, you frightened me.
I saw you coming, and I say to myself-- ah! I’ll surprise her.
I know you like to sit under this tree.
I know you’re famous for your surprise attacks, General,
but you can’t treat a woman the way you treat the British
Dessalines screws up his face, conscious that he has failed again.
Oh, well. Here, I picked these for you.
He hands her the nosegay.
Thank you, General. They’re beautiful.
Thérèse lays the flowers beside her on the bonnet and continues reading.
You ignore me. Why?
(rolls her eyes)
I want to be kind, monsieur, but why do you persist in
following me around when I’ve told you I cannot love you.
Desslaines reaches over and kisses her. Thérèse beats him off with her bonnet, scattering
the flowers. Finally, Dessalines releases her.
Please, monsieur, you know I don’t like that.
She gets up and dusts herself off, picking up her book and bonnet.
I have great respect for you, General, as a soldier and a
commander and a . . . a hero of the Republic. But please,
once and for all, stop trying to make love to me!
She sighs as though she knows this is not the last word to be said on the subject. She turns
around and peers off into the distance.
Ah, I see General L’Ouverture has arrived. I must go greet
him. Good day, General Dessalines.
She walks briskly away. Dessalines scowls.
Damn! I want that woman!
EXT. BEFORE THE MANOR HOUSE - DAY
Toussaint’s coach stops in front of the manor house. Suzanne and a number of SERVANTS
and ORDERLIES stand waiting. Thérèse walks up beside Suzanne and is followed ten paces
behind by Dessalines, who stands beside her.
The coach door opens and out pops the little girl, followed by Toussaint and then Moise.
Toussaint kisses Suzanne and then Thérèse. Moise kisses Suzanne and nods gravely
towards Thérèse , who greets him with a coquettish glance. The little girl moves instinctively
Who is this you’ve brought me?
She greeted me on the road and called me Papa. I
accepted the honor. Her name’s Rose.
Toussaint and Suzanne walk off hand in hand, followed by Thérèse. Rose skips and jumps before them.
Moise greets Dessalines warmly and walks off with his arm around Dessalines’ shoulder.
Well, Jacques, How do you like life as a country gentleman?
Dessalines walks with his head lowered. He kicks a stone.
I hate it. I wish I were a field hand again. I want to go back to camp.
What’s the matter, old friend.
Women! I don’t understand women anymore. In the old days, you want a woman, you took a woman, and she never made a fuss. Nowadays, you want a woman, and she makes you speeches about virtue. I don’t understand. You read books. What is virtue?
Well, let me see. A woman talks about virtue when she wants to give herself to you but she’s afraid what others will say.
Why? What will others say?
They’ll say she has no virtue.
I still don’t get it.
What pretty little thing has done this to you?
Thérèse! That little hypocrite. How dare she talk of virtue! Forget it, Jacques. She’s used to white men with fancy manners. She’s not for African field hands like us. Too proud!
EXT. THE GARDEN AT ENNERY - THE NEXT DAY
Moise is walking by himself on a path in the garden. The path is luxuriant with tropical flowers
and broad-leafed plants. Moise comes upon a stream. He stops and contemplates the water
for a few moments. Then he takes off his boots, sits down on a rock, and dangles his feet in
the water. A broad smile plays over his face. He begins kicking his feet in the water, splashing
like a little boy.
Thérèse comes up the path. She is dressed beautifully and carries a parasol. She stops by
Oh, excuse me, General Moise, I didn’t expect to find you here. I often take this walk by myself, too. It is a beautiful spot, isn’t it?
Uh, yes it is . . . Uh, please excuse my appearance.
What? oh, your feet. What do you take me for, General. I’m not offended by bare feet.
Then excuse me for intruding on your favorite spot.
I seem to be the intruder, here. Come, we can share the path. Walk with me. . . Barefoot or booted.
Moise pulls his boots on, and they start along the path. Thérèse takes his arm and Moise
stiffens. Thérèse lets go.
Do you dislike me, General?
Are you angry with me? Have I offended you somehow?
No, how could you have done that?
Perhaps you are upset about your friend, General Dessalines.
He has told me that you are unkind.
It’s not true. I have given him no encouragement, but he follows me around like a ram in the rutting season.
(starts walking again)
I want you to know that I have not been unkind to him.
Why do you tell me this?
(taking his arm again)
Because I want you to understand me.
Why, then, do you reject him?
Does a woman need a reason?
Maybe you reject him because he’s a rude African with no manners because he’s spent his life cutting cane. He’s no fancy creole like you.
Thérèse stops. Her eyes flare. She bravely fights to control her temper.
Really, monsieur, you have no cause to accuse me of
any such thing. I have nothing against Africans. It is you
who are unkind.
(pauses, lowers her voice)
Maybe I reject him because I have eyes for another African.
Moise pauses, stares at her confusedly.
Oh! You are a fool!
She turns to go. Moise, finally catching on, grabs her wrist and pulls her to him. He kisses her.
She does not resist. He releases her.
You see, monsieur, I have nothing against Africans.
Moise kisses her again and brings his hands to her breasts. Thérèse bats his hand away
and pulls out of the embrace.
Careful, General, I have revealed my soul to you, but I haven’t yet given you rights over my body.
Jacques was right. Now you’ll tell me about your virtue.
What if I do? Since living with your aunt, I have learned to care about such things.
Where was your care for your virtue when you were Clément’s mistress?
Thérèse hits him hard on the side of his head with her closed parasol. Moise’s forehead is
bloodied, but he doesn’t flinch.
You hypocrite! You hate me because I’ve slept with white men. I was a slave, just like you. What choice did I have? Should I have taken the lash instead of the bed? Maybe I was weak, but I saw my opportunity and I took it; and I’m not ashamed.
Thérèse pauses and breathes heavily. Moise continues to look at her impassively, haughtily silent.
Your hatred for the whites is well known, General Moise,
but I, too, know how to hate.
I want to tell you something I have told no one else, not even my confessor.
It was I who killed Clément the night of the rising.
Moise ‘s interest quickens.
The field hands broke in on us as we were sitting before the fire. He was reading. I was nursing my baby. They tied us to our chairs while they talked about the best way to kill us. Then they cut my ropes and put a knife in my
hand. They told me they would let me live if I killed Clément. At first, I was afraid. But as I put the knife in his neck, I realized how much I hated this man who had raped my soul, night after night. I stabbed him again and again. They had to pull me off. I was covered with his blood. And then they handed me my baby with its throat slit . . . The next thing I remember--I was looking into Suzanne’s eyes, not knowing where I was or how I got there. . .
(lowers her eyes)
There you have it, monsieur, my deepest secret. You can scorn me if you like. I don’t care. I don’t need you.
Thérèse turns to go. Again Moise catches her by the wrist and pulls her to him.
You are mine!
He catches her up in a stinging embrace.
EXT. ABOARD A SHIP IN THE HARBOR OF SANTO DOMINGO CITY - DAY
Sailors scurry about in the background. HÉDOUVILLE, the new commissioner, leans over the
railing and looks into the harbor. He is tall, about forty, and is fighting off paunchiness.
Hédouville is a dandy, and even aboard ship, he wears the finest Parisian tailoring. Next to him
is his toady, DEGRELLE, a small man of severe aspect, with spectacles perched on his nose.
That it is, sir.
I don’t suppose I’ll be able to wear any of my woolens.
I suppose not, sir.
And the wigs will have to go, too. It’s too damned hot.
No more wigs, sir?
You know, Degrelle, I love the Republic with my heart and soul, but I simply cannot get used to this democratic penchant for wearing one’s own hair.
Damnable fashion, sir.
Ah, well, we have a job to do. Secret orders from Bonaparte himself, you know. Just before we left, he pulls me aside and says to me, “Hédouville, I want you to break this Toussaint creature’s power, whatever the cost.”
Those were the orders, sir.
Well, we know how to do our job. If we’re quick about it, we can get back to Paris and only miss one season.
That would be good, sir.
INT. OUTER OFFICE OF HÉDOUVILLE’S CHAMBERS - LE CAP
Toussaint sits by himself, waiting for Hédouville. GENERAL RIGAUD enters. He is short, has a light complexion, African features, and wears a straight-haired wig. Toussaint rises and
the two shake hands warmly.
General Rigaud, it’s good to meet you at last.
Strange we haven’t met ‘til now. I wanted to thank you for
sending me reinforcements at Jacmel. I know how hard it
was for you to do that.
You know, of course, that Sonthonax meant to have you
arrested before I convinced him to leave for France.
I’m much obliged to you, monsieur.
Sonthonax would have driven a wedge between the
blacks and the mulattoes. But you and I must never let
We are of one mind, monsieur.
If we are to preserve this colony for France, we must
resist the stupidities of these meddlesome Frenchmen.
Hédouville enters from within. He is overdressed for the tropical heat and sweats profusely.
Throughout the ensuing scenes, he intermittently dabs his forehead with a handkerchief pulled
out of his sleeve.
Oh, general Rigaud and General L’Ouverture, an
I was passing through Le Cap and thought I’d make a call.
I hope you don’t mind.
Not at all, General. In fact there’s a matter I must take up
with you. It seems the Directory was unhappy about this
business with the emigré planters. Those people are under indictment, you know.
I acted entirely within my authority. Really, monsieur, wouldn’t it be better to take this up in private.
As you wish. But I really did want to talk with Gen. Rigaud, so if you will excuse us, General . . .
Toussaint turns and walks briskly away, evidently unpleased. Hédouville and Rigaud move
into the inner office.
INT. HÉDOUVILLE’S STUDY
The Directory has dismissed the charges brought against
you by M. Sonthonax. You are completely exonerated.
I’m pleased to hear it.
In fact, the Directory feels, and all Paris agrees, that you have not received enough credit for your actions during the war.
Bonaparte himself told me that he thought your attack on Jacmel the masterstroke of the war. He feels that General L’Ouverture has taken too much credit for himself and has deliberately cut you out.
Bonaparte himself said that?
Absolutely, and the Directory intends to make amends. I have the power to make you supreme commander in the southern district, equal in rank to Gen. L’Ouverture. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?
Good! You shall have it. But we must move slowly. Who knows what that devious old darkie might do. I have some
plans to cut away at L’Ouverture’s strength, but I need your word that I may proceed with no interference from you.
You have my word, monsieur.
They shake hands.
EXT. A VILLAGE SQUARE - DAY
A goodly number of blacks are milling about the square. Other sit in the shade of a large tree.
A WHITE SERGEANT accompanied by TWO WHITE CORPORALS carrying rifles, begins
tacking a notice to the tree. A group of curious blacks gathers around.
What does it say in the paper?
Well, it says here that by order of the Special Agent, you
darkies are to be bound to your former masters for six
Are we slaves again?
The blacks get noisy and restless. The word SLAVERY goes through the crowd.
No, no! There’s no slavery. The word here is
“apprenticeship.” You’re to serve an apprenticeship.
I serve nobody!
He rips the proclamation off the tree and begins tearing it up.
See here! You can’t do that. That paper’s official.
He tries to get the paper away from the 1st laborer who knocks him down. Two other blacks
start beating him up.
The corporals panic and start firing into the crowd. Several blacks fall wounded. The rest
INT. TOUSSAINT’S STUDY AT ENNERY
Toussaint sits writing at a desk. A BLACK OFFICER breaks in on him. He is sweaty and
Excuse me, General
What is it, soldier?
Hédouville has issued a decree binding the laborers to
their former masters for six years.
Tousaint pounds the desk, stands up.
There are riots all over the northern district. Some whites
have been killed.
Send orders to Gen. Moise to deploy the Fifth Regiment
on all the major roads in the northern district. Put up
notices on all the plantations countermanding the decree
in my name, do you understand, in my name.
And saddle my horse!
He salutes and runs out.
INT. HÉDOUVILLE’S STUDY
Hédouville is being measured for a suit by three BLACK TAILORS. Degrelle stands by.
A little more room in the middle, I think. Your creole
cooking agrees with me.
Toussaint bursts into the room. Hédouville acts as if he is hardly surprised.
Ah, General, nice of you to drop by. Do you know, I was
just thinking how truly surprised I am to find your people
make such excellent tailors.
(at the tailors)
The tailors scurry out of the room. Toussaint turns to Degrelle.
M. Degrelle is my confidential secretary. He is privy to all my affairs. Isn’t that right, Degrelle.
So there can be no objection to M. Degrelle staying in this room no matter what you have to say.
Toussaint pauses to catch his breath.
You fool! Your little decree has caused a near rebellion in the northern district.
Well, what of it? It’s your job to put it down.
I’ve done better than that. I’ve countermanded your decree.
You’ve done what! How dare you! He can’t do that, can he, Degrelle.
By what authority do you countermand the order of the Special Agent of the Directory?
By the authority of reason and humanity! By my authority to do whatever necessary to keep the peace on this island no matter how many Special Agents of the Directory try to destroy it.
Careful, monsieur, your language approaches sedition. Take note of it, Degrelle.
I have, sir.
You fool! If I hadn’t acted immediately, you’d be dead by now, and the whole colony would be in flames. I saved your skin this time, Citizen Special Agent, but you’ll get no second chance from me.
He storms out of the room.
Sounds angry, doesn’t he, Degrelle
Very angry, sir.
EXT. THE GATES OF FORT LIBERTÉ - DAWN
TWO BLACK SENTRIES stand guard before the gates. About thirty WHITE HORSEMEN ride
up to the gate, led by a black man, CITIZEN MANGINAT. As the horsemen stop, the sentries
move in front of the gate and present arms.
Stand aside. I must see General Moise right away.
State your name and your business.
I am Citizen Manginat, and I have urgent orders from the
Special Agent. Where is General Moise?
General Moise will be back later today. You’ll have to
speak to Col. Michel.
Suddenly, Manginat and several of the horsemen train guns on the sentries.
My orders are to take command of this garrison. Any
warning from you and you’ll be shot.
Captain, you take the commandpost. Lieutenant, follow
me. We’ll take Gen. Moise on the road.
EXT. ROAD - DAY
Two troops of horse soldiers approach each other on the road. Manginat and Moise pull up
to one another.
I am he.
I am Citizen Manginat. By order of the Special Agent, I
place you under arrest.
What’s the charge?
Insubordination for failing to enforce the decree of 6th
That fool! He can’t get Toussaint, so he goes for the next
biggest fish. Take care. Citizen Manginat, you can’t make
war like I can.
Nevertheless, General, you are under arrest. Your weapon.
You want my weapon--here!
Moise draws his pistol and shoots Manginat. Both sides fire on each other. Moise’s horse rears
and then Moise gallops away while his men pin down Manginat’s troops. Some white horsemen
try to chase Moise, but they are shot down.
INT. A ROOM AT ENNERY
Moise is standing before Toussaint. Moise looks angry. Toussaint is smiling grimly.
I fail to see what you find so amusing in all of this.
I’ve been waiting for this moment. The Special Agent has
overplayed his hand.
(clenches his open hand into a tight fist)
He is mine!
( to Moise)
He’ll find it’s not so easy to disband a black regiment.
An ORDERLY pops into the room.
Send orders to General Christophe to march to Le Cap and hold all the forts surrounding the city. Then tell General Dessalines to patrol all the roads to the south; Hédouville must not get through to Rigaud
Send riders out to all the villages in the north. Tell the laborers to arm themselves and march on Le Cap. I will meet them there.
The orderly runs out. Moise looks at Toussaint incredulously.
Monsiuer Hédouville is about to have a little scare.
EXT. A PLANTATION VILLAGE - DUSK
Huts line the road. LABORERS sit outside the huts, gossiping, playing cards. smoking,etc.
Children play in the road. A RIDER gallops up and stops abruptly, scattering children, dogs,
Citizens! Arm yourselves! Hédouville tries to restore
slavery! Papa Toussaint says arm yourselves and march
on Le Cap!
He gallops off.
EXT. THE ROAD TO LE CAP - NIGHT
LABORERS armed with guns, machetes, pitchforks, etc. march by torchlight. As they pass a side
road, they are joined by more laborers carrying torches. The shot opens up and WE SEE a
torchlight parade of armed blacks several miles long.
EXT. THE EASTERN GATE OF LE CAP - DAWN
Thousands of armed laborers stand before the city. Toussaint rides up to the front on his
white stallion. The laborers set up a rhythmic chant of PAPA TOUSSAINT PAPA TOUSSAINT etc.
Finally, Toussaint raises his arms, and the laborers go silent.
My children! We are saved!. At this moment, Hédouville
is boarding a ship for Paris. He fears the wrath of the
blacks. You want your freedom . . .
Toussaint grabs a rifle from a nearby laborer and holds it high in the air.
Here is your freedom!
The blacks cheer tumultuously. Toussaint holds the gun in the air for a few moments longer
and then throws it back to the laborer.
I go now to wish the Special Agent bon voyage. Do not
enter the city unless I send for you.
Toussaint turns and rides into Le Cap alone.
EXT. DOCKSIDE AT LE CAP - DAY
A ship is being loaded quite hurriedly. Hédouville stands at the railing. He is quite agitated.
Next to him stands Degrelle. A black and white crowd watches from shore.
Hurry up with those crates! I want to be off within the
Toussaint rides up and dismounts.
Oh no! Here comes the black devil himself.
(to a sailor)
You there! Pull up that gangplank. Don’t let that fellow on board. Shove off immediately!
It’s safe now, Monsieur Special Agent. The blacks were
angry about the Fifth Regiment, but I have calmed their fears. You can come back on shore, now.
Not with that howling mob outside the city. Don’t play me for a fool, General. As long as you are here, Saint Domingue is not safe for a Special Agent of the Directory.
I’ll be back with the fleet, you black devil.
Hédouville shakes his fist at Toussaint. Degrelle does likewise.
I will do whatever is necessary to protect the freedom of French citizens. Au revoir, Monsieur Special Agent.
A VOICE FROM THE CROWD
Long live Toussaint L’Ouverture!
The crowd CHEERS.
INT. THE OUTER OFFICE OF TOUSSAINT’S CHAMBERS IN LE CAP
The room is filled with petitioners, white, black, and mulatto. COLONEL VINCENT paces
thoughtfully. He is fiftyish and dignified-looking. The door to the inner office opens and three
men walk out. A SECRETARY addresses Col. Vincent.
Gen. L’Ouverture will see you now.
INT. THE INNER OFFICE
Toussaaint rises as Vincent enters.
Thank you for coming, Colonel. Have a seat.
Vincent sits down. Toussaint continues pacing as he speaks.
You’ve always been frank with me, Colonel, and I need your frankness now. What do you think of this Hédouville affair?
Hédouville did nothing but stir up trouble. If you’re asking me the opinion of the whites . . .
I know what the whites think. I want to know what you think.
I’m solidly behind you, as always.
Good, I believe you. I want you to go to Paris to explain my actions to the Directory. Hédouville will concoct all sorts of lies. If I send a black man, they will never believe him.
I’m honored by your trust.
I also want you to take this. It’s the new constitution I’ve had drawn up.
He hands Vincent a paper from his desk. Vincent puts on a pair of reading glasses and takes
the paper from Toussaint. As he reads, he screws up his face thoughtfully from time to time.
Toussaint paces as he reads. Finally, he puts down the paper.
This is a bold step. This document makes you governor for life. And why do you give me a printed copy? Certainly the Directory would look kindlier on a manuscript.
I understand your difficulties, but there’s no time to ask for approval. There’s going to be a civil war here, Colonel, mulatto against black, Hédouville’s parting gift. If I am to fight this war, my authority must be beyond question.
This will be seen as a declaration of independence. Don’t you see that?
If I wanted independence, I could have taken it before now. Sonthonax begged me to do it. Maitlland bribed me to do it. But I never shall. France made my people citizens, and I love France as I love a woman. I love only God more. In all I do, I do only what I must to keep Saint Domingue French.
But what shall I tell them in Paris, General? It says here that you are proud, that you are ambitious.
Proud! I am proud, proud for my people; ambitious for them, too. When a black field hand looks at me, he sees the reflection of his own glory. It is their glory I seek, not my own. Tell them that in Paris!
Toussaint storms out of the office.
INT. OUTER OFFICE
Toussaint is besieged by petitioners, but he never slows his pace.
General . . . We must see you . . . Urgent business!
He walks briskly out of the room.
EXT. OFFICE BUILDING - DAY
Toussaint strides out the front door, jumps on his horse, and gallops off down the street.
EXT. TOUSSAINT‘S COTTAGE AT BRÉDA - DUSK
Toussaint’s white stallion stands in front of the cottage. Moise rides up, dismounts, and
enters the cottage.
INT. TOUSSAINT’S COTTAGE
Moise walks in and finds Toussaint sitting with his head resting on his arms on a table.
Moise turns to go, but Toussaint stirs and turns around.
I didn’t want to disturb you.
I wasn’t asleep. I heard you come in.
Why did you ask me to come here?
I often come here to think . . . to pray . . . to remember where I came from.
Do you think I forget that? Is that why you called me here?
No, I think you remember that only too well. That’s one of the things I want to talk to you about. Have you seen my constitution?
Yes, I see you are governor for life. Do you intend never to retire?
I’d retire today, if I could. But my work isn’t done.
Many would like to see that.
And you, Moise?
I try to be loyal, Toussaint, but there’s a lot I don’t like.
Go on, Moise.
It’s the whites. It looks like you prefer them to your own people. We won the island, but you gave it back to the whites.
What would you have done?
Break up the estates. Give the land to the laborers. That’s what they want anyway. Send the whites back to France.
Toussaint gets up and walks outside. Moise follows him.
EXT. THE CANEFIELD OUTSIDE TOUSSAINT’S COTTAGE - DUSK
Toussaint and Moise walk slowly through the canefield. There is a brilliant sunset in the background.
No, we can’t do that. It wouldn’t work. If every laborer had his own bit of land, don’t you know what would happen. The first thing he’d fall into debt. The next step would be slavery. There is no freedom unless everyone shares in the wealth of the island. For that we need the estates, and for that we need the whites. Try to understand that.
I try, Toussaint; for your sake, I try to tolerate the whites. But I cannot love them as you seem to do. I can barely stand to be in the same room with a white man.
The French made us citizens. They gave us a place in the world we could never have won for ourselves no matter how many battles we fought.
The French gave us masters.
And now they send teachers. The blacks are ignorant. We need French education, French laws.
I see a Saint Domingue for all colors, led by blacks--yes! But by black Frenchmen, educated, civil. If we can’t have that we’ll have nothing. Without France, Saint Domingue would become a wasteland, peopled by paupers and ruled by despots.
(shaking his head)
Why do you tell me all this?
I have something important for you to do, and I want you to understand me. Rigaud is planning a revolt in the south. I am going to lead the campaign against him myself, and I want to leave you in charge of the northern district. There’s been trouble here, so I want you to understand why it’s important to protect the whites. Will you do it?
You trust me after everything I just said?
I trust your word.
You have it, then.
Toussaint clasps Moise on the shoulders.
EXT. A CANEFIELD ON A NORTHERN PLANTATION - DAY
BLACK LABORERS are cutting cane with machetes and tying cane into bundles. THREE
BLACK SOLDIERS stand off to the side. A BURLY LABORER sits on a bundle of cane and
drinks from a bucket. Then he pours the bucket over his head and SIGHS heavily. A WHITE
MAN rides up with a riding crop tucked under his arm.
See here! You can’t lie about like that . Get back to work.
I’ve cut enough cane. I’m through for the day.
Your contract says you work ‘til dusk.
To hell with my contract and to hell with you!
You can’t talk to me like that!
The white man tries to strike the laborer with his riding crop, but the laborer grabs the crop as
it comes down on him and pulls the white man off his horse. The two grapple in the dust. Other
laborers come running over. The soldiers walk slowly to the front of the crowd. Two laborers
pick up the white man and hold him with his arms pinned to his sides.
(to the soldiers, gasping for breath)
You’re here to protect me. What are you going to do
The first soldier looks at the white man for a moment and then smashes him in the face
with his rifle butt. The laborers finish him off with their machetes.
From now on, brothers, no more white men! The Fifth
Regiment will back you up. General Moise will lead us.
He’s one of us.
Long Live Moise! . . . Long Live Moise! . . . etc.
EXT. OUTSIDE THE WALLS AT FORT LIBERTÉ
Moise and a few fellow officers are taking target practice with pistols. Moise is shooting.
About ten LABORERS and ENLISTED MEN walk up to the group of officers.
Excuse us, General, but we must speak with you. Urgent, sir.
What is it, gentlemen?
In private, sir.
Moise walks off with them a few paces.
There’s been an uprising at Limbée.
The laborers killed a white man for beating one of them.
What did the soldiers do?
They joined in.
There’s more, sir. Plantations all over the north are being taken over.
How much of the Fifth Regiment is involved in this?
A lot, sir, and officers, too.
You’re fools to tell me this. You’re mutineers. You can be shot.
We want you to lead us. We know you hate the whites, too. We’ve been waiting for this moment ever since that business with Hédouville.
I can’t help you, Sergeant. You’re a damned fool to think I would.
Think again, sir. If you don’t lead us, you’ll have to fight us. Can you fire on your own color to protect whites?
Moise pauses, he grimaces in obvious anguish.
Wait here, Sergeant.
Moise walks back to his fellow officers and confers with them briefly. WE SEE them nodding in agreement. Moise returns to the group of soldiers and laborers.
Sergeant, you have a commander.
Hurrah! Long Live Moise!
INT. TOUSSAINT’S TENT AT HIS FIELD HQ IN THE SOUTH
Toussaint and Dessalines are going over some maps spread out on a table. A MESSENGER bursts into the tent with a dispatch.
Urgent dispatch from the north, sir!
Toussaint reads the dispatch. His face drops. He crumples the paper in his fist and bangs on the table.
Oh, Moise! Why did you do it? Did you have to break your word and my heart, too?
What is it, Toussaint? What’s happened.
It’s from Christophe. Moise and the Fifth are in revolt. They’re taking over towns and killing whites. Christophe says he can hold Le Cap, but he needs reinforcements.
Toussaint pauses, looks Dessalines full in the face.
You go, Jacques. You’re his friend. If you come after him, he’ll know there’s no hope.
I’ll go, Toussaint. For you, I’ll go.
EXT. OUTSIDE THE WALLS AT FORT LIBERTÉ - DAY
Three hundred BLACK SOLDIERS stand shoulder to shoulder in single file before the walls of the fort. Off to one side stands a firing squad. Toussaint sits on his white stallion before the line of soldiers. His eyes are glaring, his nostrils flaring. He is in a high rage and can barely control himself.
You are traitors, every one of you! At the very moment when we end the war of mulatto against black, you set black against white and black against black. You have betrayed me; you have betrayed France; you have betrayed Liberty. Tremble, now, before the wrath of Toussaint L’Ouverture!
Toussaint rides over to the first man in line.
Count off by ten.
The tenth soldier stands out.
Prepare to die, soldier!
The soldier salutes smartly, turns, and marches in front of the firing squad. TWO SOLDIERS tie his hands behind his back and blindfold him. They walk back to the firing line.
Ready . . . Aim . . . Fire!
SHOTS ring out. The guns puff white smoke. The soldier falls dead.
Count off again!
The next soldier in line starts up the count.
The tenth soldier pauses momentarily with eyes closed. Then, without waiting to be told, he steps forward, salutes, and marches off to the firing squad.
INT. MOISE’S CELL IN FORT LIBERTÉ
Moise sits on his cot, slumped against the wall. Thérèse sits half-collapsed on the floor, her arms around Moise’s waist. Throughout the ensuing scene, WE HEAR SHOTS from the firing squad outside.
Damn him for taking you away from me.
The tribunal condemned me.
Thérèse gets up and walks around, agitated.
How can you be so blind! He wants to see you dead.
Let him be, Thérèse; you owe your life to him.
I wish he had left me to die in that ditch. He hates you. He’s jealous of your power.
No, Thérèse, Toussaint hates no one. I’m going to die because I hated the whites. But Toussaint is doomed, too, doomed by a vision that makes him trust those who will destroy him.
Moise pauses, shakes his head sadly.
But now I know Toussaint is right. It’s better to die for a hopeless dream than for a hopeless rage.
What about us, you and me. Isn’t that worth living for?
It’s too late for us, Thérèse. We’re two wounded beasts, you and I. We can only rage ‘til we drop.
Thérèse rushes to Moise and embraces him.
Oh, I can’t stand it!
She breaks free, runs to the door and POUNDS on it.
Guard! Let me out!
The door opens and a GUARD walks in. Thérèse looks at the guard for a moment, runs to Moise and embraces him passionately, sobbing, one more time, and then flees out the door.
EXT. THE WALL OUTSIDE FORT LIBERTÉ - DAWN
Moise marches slowly to the firing squad with an escort of soldiers. WE HEAR a DRUM ROLL as they march Moise up to the wall which is pockmarked by bullet holes. The escort marches away and the drum roll stops. An OFFICER walks up to Moise.
Do you want a blindfold, General?
I am not afraid to look death in the face, my friend.
The officer walks back to the firing line. The DRUM ROLL starts up again. The officer takes out his sword and holds it high in the air. The drum roll stops.
The firing squad assumes the shooting position.
The officer pauses too long. His sword arm wavers. He lowers it slowly and finally drops the sword and covers his face with his hands.
I can’t . . I can’t do it.
Moise is smiling beatifically.
Long Live Toussaint L’Ouverture! Fire, my friends, fire!
SHOTS ring out.
INT. TOUSSAINT’S INNER OFFICE AT LE CAP - DAWN
The dawn light glows orange in the room. Toussaint sits with his head lying on his desk, his arms stretched out before him. An ORDERLY comes into the room.
Excuse me, General. The French fleet has been sighted
on the horizon.
Toussaint looks up. WE SEE that he has been weeping.
INT. GENERAL LECLERC’S CABIN ABOARD SHIP - DAY
Seven WHITE FRENCH GENERALS face each other at a table. At the head of the table sits LeClerc, a slight man, early thirties, with refined features and long sideburns. Among the generals at the table is one older and greyer than the rest, KERVERSEAU.
I have called you here to tell you the objective of our campaign. If I have not told you before, it was to avoid loose talk aboard ship. I tell you now only to avoid confusion, so you won’t think I’m giving contradictory orders. What I tell you now must go no further than this cabin. . . . Our objective is to restore slavery in the French colonies.
General Kerverseau looks pained.
My brother-in-law, Citizen First Consul Bonaparte, is convinced that slavery is the only way to assure the prosperity of the colonies. Here is his plan for our campaign. First, we demand that all the black generals come to Le Cap and swear loyalty to the Republic in a public ceremony. Then . . .
What if they don’t show up?
Then we hunt them down like the bandits they are.
Do you think that will be easy?
I talked to lots of people in Paris who know the island very well. They told me that they themselves could walk into the interior with sixty grenadiers and come back with this Toussaint creature’s head.
You’ve been talking to imbeciles and liars.
LeClerc looks somewhat shaken, but tries to maintain his composure.
Then in the next step, we deport the black generals, and disband the black regiments. Bonaparte’s words to me were: “Don’t leave a single epaulet on the shoulders of a single nigger.”
General LeClerc, sir, I must speak. I’ve seen service before in Saint Domingue. I’ve fought against Gen. L’Ouverture, and I’ve fought with him. He defeated the French once before; he duped the Spanish; and he made a shambles of the British army. He has intelligence, courage, and cunning, and he has the fanatical following of forty-nine fiftieths of the people on that island. I wouldn’t go against him with sixty thousand grenadiers.
The other generals begin MURMURING to one another.
And when the blacks find out you have come to restore slavery, you’ll be fighting red hot devils, not men. Then there are our own troops to consider. They’re republicans. They won’t like fighting to make slaves of free men and French citizens.
Which is why they must not find out! I am deeply disturbed by your tone, General Kerverseau, and I need to know this minute whether I can count on your loyalty!
You can count on my loyalty because I am a good soldier of France. Even so, Citizen Captain General LeClerc, sir, in the coming war of white against black, any man who doesn’t side with his color, no matter what crimes they commit, is a dead man.
There is a KNOCK on the door, and WE HEAR a VOICE from outside.
Important news, sir!
An ADJUTANT enters the room
News from shore, sir. General Moise has been executed.
LeClerc smiles broadly.
Well, if Gen. L’Ouverture does our job for us, we can’t
EXT. A HILLTOP OVERLOOKING LE CAP - DAY
Toussaint, Christophe, and Dessalines stand together and look out to sea. It is a bright sunny day. Below them stretches a gleaming white city that shines liker a jewel in the sun. Beyond the city lies the intense blue of the Caribbean. Clearly visible on the horizon are about sixty ships. The three stand silently, eyes fixed on the horizon. Finally, Toussaint speaks.
We are lost . . . All France has come against us.
We treat them fairly and see how they repay us.
How do we hold them off, Toussaint?
Christophe, you go take command of Fort Picolet in the harbor. They’ll have to ask you for permission to land. Tell them I’m in the Spanish part of the island, and you have to wait for my orders. If they wait, we can deal with them. If they try to land, burn the city and retreat to the mountains. Leave them nothing but ashes, nothing!
EXT. THE HARBOR JUST BELOW FORT PICOLET - DAY
The walls of the fort go down to the water. A stairway going down the wall ends at a small dock. WE SEE a launch being rowed up to the dock. In the bow stands MAJOR LEBRUN, a cocky young man very much imbued with his own importance. The launch stops at the dock. LeBrun jumps out and climbs the stairs. At the top of the stairs, he sees Christophe, looking very grave, surrounded by black officers. LeBrun approaches Christophe, who is smoking a cigar.
I am Major LeBrun, envoy of Captain-General LeClerc. May I know to whom I am speaking?
I am General Christophe, commander of Fort Picolet.
Captain-General LeClerc demands permission to land his fleet in Le Cap.
General LeClerc will have to wait. Without orders from the Commander-in-Chief, I cannot allow warships to anchor in Le Cap.
But General LeClerc commands you to obey!
I have but one commander, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Governor-General of Saint Domingue. I recognize no other authority. If General LeClerc supercedes him, let him show me his orders signed by Bonaparte.
You’re making a mistake, General
Christophe throws his cigar to the ground in disgust.
You think you can threaten me, you impudent cub! Get back to your Captain-General. Tell him he must wait for the return of General L’Ouverture. If he sends a single ship into the harbor before that time, the city will burst into flames before she can drop anchor.
LeBrun scowls and walks back to his boat. Christophe turns to an OFFICER beside him.
Assemble the regiment.
The officer motions to a nearby bugler who sounds the ASSEMBLY CALL. SOLDIERS rush in from all over the fort to form ranks.
Some of you have been fighting with me for ten years, since the days when we were Spanish irregulars. You may think you’ve seen some hard fighting. But the fighting to come will make the strongest among you weep with fear. Will you fight with me until death?
(to the officer)
Get your men moving. I want the whole city evacuated before dark. Tell people they can take only what they can carry. After dark, lingerers will be shot.
EXT. LEBRUN’S LAUNCH APPROACHING LECLERC’S FLAGSHIP
LeBrun still stands in the bow. He climbs up a rope ladder and walks over to LeClerc who is standing on the poopdeck with Gen. Boyer, one of the generals from the meeting. LeBrun steps in front of LeClerc and salutes.
It’s Christophe, sir. He refuses to let you land without orders from Gen. L’Ouverture.
He refuses to recognize your authority until he sees your orders.
Does he now? We can’t very well show him that, can we?
I should say not.
He says if you land without permission, he’ll burn the city.
Really! You may go now, Major, you’ve done well.
Thank you, sir.
LeBrun salutes and walks off.
He’s bluffing. I can’t allow this kind of challenge to my authority. We’ll send in a frigate after dark. That ought to soften the old monkey up.
EXT. THE ROAD LEADING OUT OF LE CAP - DAY
The road is choked with refugees of all colors. SEVERAL BLACK WOMEN carry towering bundles on their heads. A WHITE WOMAN rides in an open carriage, clutching an impossible number of boxes, a toy poodle yapping noisily from her lap. An old, white-haired BLACK MAN pulls a hand cart filled with naked children and burlap sacks. A FAT WHITE MAN is being carried in a sedan chair by two profusely sweating BLACKS. The crush of people and horses moves slowly up the road. The city is visible in the distance.
EXT. ATOP THE WALLS OF FORT PICOLET - NIGHT
Christophe and a few officers stand on the wall and look into the harbor. In the darkness, WE SEE the outline of a frigate, several hundred yards away.
Shall I give the order to burn the city?
Let’s wait and see what she’ll do. I can’t believe LeClerc is
Look, she’s turning broadside.
A BRILLIANT FLASH OF ORANGE FIRE--a cannon’s BOOM--one of the wachtowers of the fort crumbles into the harbor not twenty feet from the officers. They do not flinch.
Let’s go, Major. The French mean to have a war.
EXT. A STREET IN LE CAP - NIGHT
SOLDIERS smash the windows of a house with rifle butts. They throw a torch through the window, and the window lights up with flame. They run to the next building, kick in the door and run inside.
The SOLDIERS upset a file cabinet marked: TITLE DEEDS. Thousands of papers tumble onto the floor. They set fire to the papers and run out.
EXT. ANOTHER STREET IN LE CAP- NIGHT
Christophe rides up to an especially large and beautiful town house and dismounts. Soldiers with torches are running in all directions. Houses all along the street are in flames. A SOLDIER is about to run into the town house.
Stop right there, soldier. That’s my house.
Christophe takes the torch from the soldier and walks through the door.
INT. TOWN HOUSE
Christophe, still holding the torch, walks into a beautiful salon with gorgeous furnishings. He stands in the middle of the room and sighs deeply.
Ah . . . my house, my house, my beautiful house.
He sets fire to the curtains.
Goodbye curtains . . .
He sets fire to a love seat.
Goodbye chair . . .
He sets fire to an enormous portrait of himself.
Goodbye, oh august general.
EXT. QUAYSIDE IN LE CAP - MORNING
French ships are offloading along the quay. A few charred beams are all that remain of the warehouses that once lined the quay. Smoke rises from smoldering ash heaps. The air is a miasmic haze. French soldiers are marching off ships, carrying chests, rolling barrels down gangplanks all the way down the quay
LeClerc stands off to one side. He COUGHS violently into a lace handkerchief and rubs his eyes as he surveys the rubble about him. He can barely breathe in the acrid air. Gen. Kerverseau walks off a ship just by Le Clerc and goes over to him.
Welcome to Saint Domingue, General LeClerc.
EXT. A STREET IN LE CAP - DAY
Placide and Isaac are walking behind their tutor, ABBÉ COISNON. All around them are the charred remains of buildings. Placide is a lanky, uncomfortable youth of about twenty. Isaac is shorter, more solidly built, and about 16. He is cockier, more self-assured than his older brother. The Abbé is balding, plump, and carries himself with an air of extreme gravity. His cassock accentuates his plumpness. The Abbé walks briskly, and the boys struggle to keep up. To their sides, French soldiers are clearing rubble and pitching tents.
They walk up to a marquee pitched in an open spot. Underneath the marquee sits LeClerc studying a map. They stop just before the marquee.
(clearing his throat)
Oh, here you are. Come in out of the sun. It’s good to see
you again, boys.
(nods to the Abbé)
Abbé . . .
The Abbé nods back ceremoniously.
I am going to trust you boys with a very important mission. I am sending you to your father to tell him we come in peace.
Why is the fleet so big, then?
France has many enemies. We have come to defend your father, not attack him.
Why did Christophe burn the city?
To tell you the truth, I don’t know. It was all a giant misunderstanding that your father and I need to straighten this out. Now I want you to give your father this.
He picks up a gold-enamelled box, tied with ribbons and seals and hands it to Isaac. Isaac’s eyes light up. Abbé Coisnon quickly takes the box from Isaac.
This box contains a personal letter from General Bonaparte to your father, explaining everything.
Now you boys met the First Consul, how did you find him?
He gave us a big dinner, and then he gave me a beautiful pistol with an ivory handle. I told him I would use it on the enemies of France.
Good boy! Do you doubt that the man who was so good to you would be good to your father, too? You boys are the only ones who can get through the lines, right now. So it is very important that you give your father this letter.
France is depending on you.
We’ll do our duty, sir.
Rest assured, general; your message will be delivered.
EXT. ROAD - NIGHT
Toussaint is galloping through a driving rain on his white stallion. He turns up the drive to his Ennery estate, gallops up to the front door and dismounts. He bounds up the steps and through the door
INT. A PARLOR ROOM AT ENNERY
Inside the parlor sit Placide, Isaac, Suzanne, and the Abbé who is sipping tea. Toussaint runs into the room and the boys leap up to embrace their father
PLACIDE AND ISAAC
Papa! Oh, papa!
My boys! Thank God your home!
Abbé Coisnon ceremoniously sets down his cup of tea and picks up the gold-enamelled box. He laboriously picks himself off the sofa and walks over to Toussaint. Toussaint releases the boys and extends his hand.
Is this the famous Toussaint L’Ouverture, friend
And servant of France, who offers me his hand?
Can you doubt it?
The Abbé shakes his hand unenthusiastically.
I am deeply grateful to you, Abbé for the care you have taken of my boys. I’m sorry I must welcome you in the midst of this senseless war.
And you will know just how senseless it is, General, once you have seen this.
He hands Toussaunt the box.
Here is a letter from Napoleon Bonaparte himself.
Toussaint eagerly breaks the seals and opens the box. He unrolls the letter and reads quickly. As he reads, he scowls and shakes his head. Without finishing the letter, he looks up and seems about to speak.
The First Consul has nothing but good will towards you. General LeClerc has sent your sons to you so that they may prevail upon you to accept the authority of the Captain-General.
(to the boys)
Did LeClerc ask you to do this?
Yes, Papa, it’s true.
He wants you to come to Le Cap to talk things over.
With all due respect, Abbé, I cannot come to Le Cap. You ask me to trust a man who would use my sons against me. If LeClerc wanted peace, there would be peace. But he came here with fire and sword, so I met him with fire and sword. As for Bonaparte’s letter, there is nothing in it but flattery and threats. He tells me he guarantees the liberty of the blacks, as if our liberty were in his keeping. I cannot trust this betrayer of the Revolution. The French people will throw him out; I am sure of it. But until then, I have no choice but to defend myself.
I am disappointed, General. I expected to find a man more open to reasonable arguments. Of course, you may keep your sons here. General LeClerc had no intention of holding them hostage to your submission.
Keep them! I do not keep my sons. I would give my life twenty times over for my people. Do you think I would hesitate to lose my sons? Let them go back to LeClerc if that’s what they want.
Yes, boys, you must choose between father and France.
Father and France! Has it come to that? I tried to build a world where father and France would be one and the same. Have I failed so greatly? Placide, Isaac, you must choose. Between father and France lies the cause of the blacks. But whatever you choose, I will always love you.
(runs to Toussaint)
I’m afraid. The French will bring slavery back. I want to stay and fight.
I will never betray France, never!
He stands by Abbé Coisnon. Suzanne grabs Isaac’s arm and pulls him to her.
You’ll stay with your mother where you belong. Abbé, have you taught my boy to turn on his mother and father? Oh, why did I ever let them go to Paris!
Well, I am deeply disappointed in my reception, here. I shall leave in the morning.
He leaves the room.
INT. INSIDE THE WALLS AT THE FORTRESS OF CRÊTES À PIERROT - DUSK
BLACK SOLDIERS in small groups, along with WOMEN and CHILDREN camp followers, hover over cooking fires. All look weary and bedraggled. Many of the soldiers wear bloody bandages. One group of soldiers is slaughtering a horse. They hand bloody strips of meat to the women and children around them.
Dessalines is talking to a group of OFFICERS who are standing and squatting by a fire. He wears a red handkerchief knotted around his head. His tunic is unbuttoned. He squats, sword in hand, pushing embers around with the point.
Tomorrow, we head for the mountains. We can’t take our big guns with us, so we blow up this place before we go. Now the French are very angry with Dessalines. We leave a pile of white corpses to stink up the noses of the French.
Dessalines spits into the fire. WE HEAR a COMMOTION a short distance away.
Look ! It’s Toussaint!
The crowd of soldiers and camp followers breaks into ecstatic CHEERING.
Where is Toussaint?
Toussaint appears as if by magic in the front ring of officers
Here is Toussaint.
Dessalines leaps up and embraces him. The crowd breaks into a rhythmic chant.
Papa Toussaint! Papa Toussaint! (etc.)
The chanting dies down. Toussaint leans against a cannon.
I came when I heard you were headed for the mountains. It’s too bad you couldn’t get to Port-au-Prince in time.
That traitor Agé handed it over to Boudet. But I have repaid the whites for their treachery. Tomorrow we blow this place up and go to the mountains.
No, I want you to stay here.
What? I don’t get it. In the mountains, we can pick off the French one by one if we have to. Here we fight on their terms.
Here’s the situation. LeClerc is still in Le Cap, but he might as well be in a desert. Unless he can get supplies, he can’t move. If you hold this fort, you can cut his lines at will, leaving Christophe and me free to harrass him in the north.
But I’ve only got 1200 men!
You will hold this fort because you are Dessalines the tiger, Dessalines the scourge of the whites.
Toussaint turns to address the crowd.
My children . . . Yes, you are all my children . . . From La Martinière . . .
CLOSE IN on an officer who looks like a white man.
. . . who is as white as a white, but who knows he has African blood in his veins, . . . to Monpoint . . .
CLOSE IN on an officer whose face is deepest black.
. . . whose skin is the same as mine, . . . To you, my children, I give this fort. The cause of freedom depends on what happens here!
VOICE FROM THE CROWD
We die for you, Papa Toussaint!
The rhythmic chanting of Papa Toussaint starts up again as Toussaint moves away through the crowd.
Dessalines, with a worried look on his face, stares intently into the fire.
EXT. INSIDE THE WALLS AT CRÊTES À PIERROT - THE NEXT MORNING
Dessalines stands on the ramparts to address the soldiers and camp followers. He is naked to the waist, and the marks of the whip are clearly visible on his back and chest.
Now listen to me. This son-of-a-pig, Boudet, he finds the corpses we leave for him at Verrettes. So he goes down to Petite Rivière and kills seven hundred blacks. And now he comes for us. If you don’t want to die at the end of a French bayonet, you work like a dog, today. I want the hill cleared, so clean I can see a snake slither into the river. And I want a ditch going the length of the fort. Everybody works, women and children, too!
EXT. THE HILLSIDE BEFORE THE FORT - DAY
A line of SOLDIERS and WOMEN slash at the jungle with machetes. Dessalines, still naked to the waist, hacks away with grim determination.
A line of soldiers work waist deep in a trench with picks and shovels. Piles of brush are burning off to the sides. Dessalines works frantically with a pickax. A CHILD walks up with a bucket of water. Dessalines drinks from the bucket and then pours it over his head. He continues working.
EXT. A FRENCH BATTALION ON THE MARCH - DAY
FRENCH SOLDIERS march four abreast in the road. They wear neat white uniforms and look fresh and vigorous. The POV opens up and WE SEE a long line of soldiers followed by a long line of supply wagons.
EXT. A NEARBY HILLTOP - DAY
GENERAL BOUDET and ANOTHER OFFICER on horseback look out over the hilltop as the army marches close behind them. The general looks through a telescope
CIRCULAR TELESCOPIC VIEW. Within the circle, WE SEE men camped on the hillside before Crêtes à Pierrot.
BOUDET hands the telescope to the officer who looks also.
Look at those stupid niggers. They don’t know enough to
stay in the fort. This is child’s play, not war.
Boudet turns his horse around and holds his hand in the air. In quick succession, WE HEAR “HALT” yelled along the line, fainter each time. The column halts.
We camp here for the night. No fires. Tomorrow we fight cowards who run at the first shot. You men have defeated the best armies in Europe. You have not come halfway around the world to be beaten by rebellious slaves.
EXT. THE BLACK’S ENCAMPMENT BEFORE CRÊTES À PIERROT - THE NEXT DAY
About 500 soldiers and as many camp followers are camped on the hillside. WE SEE a soldier cleaning his rifle, a woman stirring a pot over a cooking fire, children chasing each other, soldiers playing dice.
Suddenly, FRENCH SOLDIERS appear in the road where the jungle gives way to the clearing. They fan out quickly to both sides, forming ranks along the bottom of the hill. The front row trains its rifles on the blacks, but does not fire.
The blacks panic. Men run for their guns. Women SCREAM and run after children. A woman throws a cooking pot to the ground, picks up a child under each arm, and runs up the hill.
In front of the French guns. WE SEE French soldiers in ranks, pointing guns straight at us. WE HEAR a LOUD BANG, and a thick wall of smoke obscures the firing line. Another line of French soldiers runs through the smoke, aims, and FIRES again.
A panorama of the battle. WE SEE lines of French soldiers running past each other and firing up the hill. The blacks retreat in panic towards the fort. Each time a SHOT rings out, they fall to the ground simultaneously, then get up and continue running the next second. Each time, a few don’t get up.
The walls of the fort. WE SEE a long row of black soldiers at the gun embrasures, training their rifles down the hillside. Every fifteen feet or so, a soldier holds a torch over a cannon.
Dessalines, shirtless, peers over the battlements amid his men. A grim smile plays over his face.
French POV. WE SEE blacks retreating up the hill. They are very close to the fort. One moment, we see a chaotic mass of running, SCREAMING people; in an instant, the blacks all jump into the trench and disappear. All goes silent. The French are pointing their guns into empty space.
A group of French soldiers lowers their rifles and stares confusedly. CLOSE IN on a French officer whose eyes bulge with fear.
Oh my God!
He crosses himself.
Dessalines and the black soldiers on the battlements.
Now! . . . Fire!
The soldiers FIRE. The cannoneers set off their cannons. A second line runs up and FIRES again.
Kill them! Kill them all! Shoot them like rats in a barrel!
Dessalines jumps in the air, wild with glee.
The French line. The hillside is strewn with French corpses. WE HEAR more SHOTS, and a line of French soldiers falls over, clutching their bellies. WE HEAR SCREAMING and MOANING; men are writhing in agony on the ground. A soldier covers his face with his hands; blood runs over his fingers. A French officer stands headless, sword in hand. A pink mist sprays out of his neck, and he falls over, rigid.
French soldiers throw away their guns and run top speed down the hill. More SHOTS ring out; more French soldiers fall. The FIRING continues until the French disappear into the jungle at the base of the hill.
Dessalines grabs a cannoneer’s torch and jumps off the ramparts. He holds the torch over an open barrel of powder.
I want only brave men here. If one French soldier sets foot in this fort, I blow it up! If you are afraid to die, go now and be a slave of the French. The price of peace is slavery!
We die for liberty
He throws the torch back to the cannoneer.
I, Dessalines will give you liberty. There is no liberty until we kill every Frenchman on this island. Dessalines will make you independent. And we will call our island Haiti, it’s name before the accursed white man ever got here.
A SOLDIER ON THE RAMPARTS
A rider with a white flag
Dessalines climbs up the ramparts and looks over the wall.
A LONE RIDER with a white flag rides up the hillside strewn with corpses. He stops just before the trench and yells out.
A message from General Boudet for General Dessalines!
Dessalines grabs a gun from the soldier next to him, takes aim and SHOOTS. The rider falls off, dead. The horse rears and runs back down the hill. Dessalines looks up from the gun embrasure.
I need no message from lying French dogs!
EXT. LE CAP - DAY
Le Cap is still a city of tents amid charred ruins. It is pouring rain, and the streets are rivers of mud. Small groups of soldiers move wearily up and down the streets, their feet splashing in the mud.
A MAN IN CIVILIAN DRESS moves briskly up the street. He enters a large tent.
LeClerc is sitting in a chair, wrapped in a blanket. He is having a fever chill, and his forehead is beaded with sweat.
You sent for me, sir?
I must send a report to Bonaparte. I can’t put it off any
The secretary hangs his rain cape on a peg in the door post and sits down at a table where there are writing implements.
Dearest Brother-in-Law . . . The rainy season has begun and I am losing men to fever at an alarming rate. My own health is none of the best.
At the moment, 3600 men are in hospital with 200 more going in every day. I’m losing about a hundred a day, almost as great as our losses on the battlefield . . . No, no. Strike that last part. Some things he better not know. Where was I?
Oh yes, . . . I need 20,000 more troops immediately. Otherwise, by autumn, there will be no white army in Saint Domingue. I assure you, my dear brother-in-law, we in Europe have a very false idea of the men we are fighting here . . . A very false idea . . .
LeClerc breaks into a coughing fit. He has a shivering paroxysm.
EXT. DESSALINES’ CAMP IN THE MOUNTAINS - NIGHT
Tents and small cooking fires are scattered over the hillside. Christophe and Dessalines sit on camp stools before a fire. In the background. WE SEE Dessalines’ large tent, lit from within.
So you met with LeClerc?
Toussaint told me to go see what he wanted.
What did he say?
He wants me to go over. He said I could still command my regiment if I went over.
That’s good . . . very good. What do you think?
I don’t know what to think . . . I’m tired, Jacques. I don’t know what this war is leading to anymore.
Christophe pulls a cigar stub out of his tunic and lights it with a stick from the fire.
Besides, I’m running out of cigars.
Did he say anything else?
He asked me to arrest Toussaint. There’d be great honors for me if I’d arrest Toussaint, he said.
Hah! We don’t arrest Toussaint. We let the French do it for us.
What are you getting at?
Look, my friend, LeClerc is right about one thing. This war is stupid. There are better ways to get rid of Frenchmen. The fever kills them off faster than we can shoot them, so why bother.
Toussaint will never surrender to LeClerc
We go over and he has no choice. As long as we still command our men, we can wait ‘til the fever makes them so weak they can’t fight. Then we kill the rest and declare independence.
Indpendence . . . Toussaint . . . Never!
That’s why we let the French get rid of him. As long as Toussaint is on this island, the blacks follow him no matter what. With Toussaint gone, they follow us.
Christophe puffs thoughtfully on his cigar.
I’ve fought beside Toussaint for ten long years.
Toussaint is crazy. He don’t understand that blacks aren’t free ‘til Haiti is free of white men. It’s time for him to go.
You may be right, my friend. I’m afraid you may be right.
Christophe throws his cigar into the fire, rises slowly, and walks off dejectedly.
Thérèse emerges from the tent and walks up to Dessalines who remains seated.
Did he agree to give up Toussaint?
EXT. LE CAP - DAY
Everywhere, new construction is beginning to rise on charred ruins.
Black dragoons ride down the street in formation. Crowds of black onlookers line the street. Toussaint leads the column on his white stallion. The black onlookers watch silently as Toussaint passes.
General Kerverseau rides up to Toussaint.
May I ride with you, General?
I am glad we are no longer enemies, monsieur. I may
now openly express my admiration for you.
I remember you from better times, General Kerverseau.
Let’s hope there is no repeat of this stupidity.
They pass a bunch of WELL-DRESSED WHITES.
You’ve had it, you old monkey!
Goodbye, Papa Toussaint!
a 3RD WHITE makes an OBSCENE NOISE. They all LAUGH.
Toussaint ignores them and turns to Kerverseau.
Six months ago, those men were groveling at my feet.
(shakes his head)
But they’ll live to regret they laughed at me.
A BLACK steps into the roadway. Toussaint stops.
Papa Toussaint, you abandon us.
No, my son, look around you. The black soldiers keep
their guns. You are safe.
Toussaint starts up again. The black man steps aside.
EXT. A FANCY GIRL’S SCHOOL JUST OUTSIDE LE CAP - DAY
The column enters the courtyard of the schoolhouse on a rise overlooking the ocean. The deep blue of the Carribean is visble just beyond the building. A line of FRENCH SOLDIERS stands in front of the building. The Black Dragoons form ranks just opposite them. Toussaint dismounts.
LeClerc comes down the steps of the building toward Toussaint. He looks haggard and ill, but he puts up a good front of being cheerful. He shakes Toussaint’s hand vigorously. Toussaint, stern and aloof, suffers LeClerc’s conviviality impassively.
Welcome, General L’Ouverture. I’m so glad we’ve put an end to this senseless war. I do wish you’d accept my offer to be Lieutenant-Governor. I’m afraid I’ll need your help.
I’m sorry. As we agreed, I intend to retire. My subordinates will give you all the help you’ll need.
Of course, but I don’t like using your fellow, Dessalines. He slaughtered enough whites to . . .
And your man, Rochambeau, slaughtered enough blacks to more than make up for it. General Dessalines keeps his rank and his command.
As you wish . . . I’m a man of my word.
General Dessalines is a little rough, monsieur; but he’s a good soldier, and he understands military discipline.
As you wish . . . say no more . . . Come, let’s drink to our reconciliation. I’ve prepared us a little supper
They turn and walk up the stairs.
There’s one thing that troubles me, General. If the war had continued, where would you have gotten arms and supplies?
(flashes LeClerc a wry smile)
I would have taken them from you.
Toussaint walks through the door ahead of LeClerc.
INT. THE ANTECHAMBER TO LECELRC’S OFFICE IN THE GIRLS’ SCHOOL
A French general, Brunet, stands alone in the antechamber. The door to the inner office opens and out walks Dessalines, followed by LeClerc. They approach Brunet.
Allow me to introduce General Brunet . . . General
Dessalines . . . General Brunet . . .
Dessalines grabs Brunet’s hand warmly and flashes a half obsequious, half predatory grin.
Ah yes, . . . we met before . . . at Crêtes à Pierrot, I believe.
Ah, but we are friends now, you and I. Times are better
. . . No?
(laughs again, uncomfortable pause)
Well, I must go now. We’ll meet again, I’m sure.
Dessalines exits, chuckling audibly.
Watch out for that one.
Dessalines? No . . . He bothered me at first, but he’s nothing but an ignorant savage. He was Toussaint’s creature; now he’s mine. He came here to tell me he thinks Toussaint’s planning something. Then he begged me . . . begged me, no less, to take him to France with me in case there’s a black uprising.
LeClerc laughs uproariously and ends up in a coughing fit.
General, you’re not well.
Brunet leads Leclerc over to some chairs, and both sit.
(catching his breath)
Anyway, I think we can move against L’Ouverture with no trouble from Dessalines. Here’s my plan. . .
EXT. TOUSSAINT’S ESTATE AT ENNERY - DAY
LABORERS are busily putting up a row of cottages. Toussaint, in civilian dress, stands next to a WHITE MAN holding a large, half-rolled sheet of plans. Both men are going over the plans intently.
A FRENCH SOLDIER rides up, dismounts, walks over to Toussaint and salutes. He hands Toussaint a letter.
It’s from General Brunet, sir. He asked me to wait for a
Toussaint breaks the seal and reads the letter.
Suzanne and TWO SERVANTS enter, carrying baskets of food. Suzanne puts down her basket and goes to Toussaint.
What is it, Toussaint?
It’s from General Brunet. He wants me to come to his
headquarters to settle a small matter.
Suzanne looks worried and draws Toussaint aside.
You mustn’t go. It’s a trap. You know you can’t trust
Oh, I trust LeClerc no more than I trust any white man. I put my faith where I always have, in God and the black army. As long as blacks are under arms, LeClerc wouldn’t dare move against me.
Suzanne embraces Toussaint, sobbing.
Please don’t go!
Don’t worry, old woman, I’ll be alright
They walk hand-in-hand back to the others.
Tell General Brunet I’ll be there tomorrow.
The soldier salutes and rides off.
EXT. BEFORE A MANOR HOUSE - DAY
Toussaint, in uniform, rides up to the front door of a manor house, dismounts, and walks in. FRENCH SOLDIERS are all around, but no one seems to notice or acknowledge him.
INT. MANOR HOUSE
Toussaint enters and sees Brunet talking to another officer. Brunet turns to him and the officer walks away.
General! How good of you to come. Why don’t we talk in here.
He ushers Toussaint into a parlor. Toussaint sits in a chair by a table.
Can I get you something to drink?
Some water, please.
I’ll go get the servants. Excuse me a minute.
Brunet exits. Toussaint sits and looks around the room for a while. He pulls a watch out of his tunic, checks the time, and puts it back in his pocket.
Suddenly, TWENTY FRENCH OFFICERS rush into the room by various doors, swords and pistols drawn. Toussaint leaps to his feet and draws his sword. He faces them menacingly.
We have not come here to harm you, General. We have
orders to secure your person.
Where is General Brunet? I am under his protection, here!
No on speaks or moves. Toussaint throws his sword on the floor.
Heaven will avenge this treachery!
The officers move quickly to bind Toussaint and usher him out of the room.
INT. A ROOM AT ENNERY
Isaac sits reading a book by a window. We hear SHOTS. Isaac jumps and looks out the window. WE SEE FRENCH SOLDIERS chasing SERVANT GIRLS. Isaac runs to a drawer and pulls out the ivory handled pistol given him by Bonaparte. French soldiers burst into the room and point guns at Isaac.
Isaac L’Ouverture, we have orders to arrest you and your
Isaac looks at the pistol in his hand, and with a contemptuous look on his face, throws it through the window with a CLATTER of broken glass.
INT. SUZANNE’S BOUDOIR
French soldiers smash mirrors and pull clothes out of the closets.
EXT. COURTYARD - DAY
French soldiers run off in all directions, carrying clothes, bottles of wine, silver candelabra, rolled up rugs, etc.
EXT. OVERHEAD SHOT - A SHIP AT SEA
INT. SHIP’S CABIN
Placide and Isaac sit dejectedly while Suzanne bangs on the cabin door.
Captain! I demand to see the captain!
The door opens slowly, and the CAPTAIN appears, flanked by ARMED GUARDS.
I am the captain, Madame.
Where is my husband? What have you done to my
Your husband is a prisoner aboard this ship.
Take me to him! I must see him!
I’m sorry. I have strict orders. No one may see the
The door shuts. Suzanne collapses, weeping. Placide and Isaac rush to console her.
EXT. ON DECK - DAY
TWO FRENCH SOLDIERS stand with fixed bayonets by the grating over the hold. CLOSE IN ON THE GRATING. We see Toussaint’s black fingers reaching for the sunlight through the grating.
OVERHEAD SHOT - THE SHIP AT SEA
EXT. DOCKSIDE AT BREST, FRANCE - DAY
DOCKWORKERS on shore pull on ropes from the ship to bring it closer to the dock. SAILORS push a gangplank over the side.
On board ship. Suzanne, Placide, and Isaac stand behind armed guards. Sailors lift the grating off the hold. Toussaint emerges slowly, squinting at the sunlight. He is heavily chained and looks haggard and dirty. Suzanne, Placide, and Isaac rush past the guards and embrace Toussaint, sobbing hysterically.
Break that up. Move him along.
One minute with his family . . .
Do as you’re told. I have strict orders.
The soldiers pull the family apart and push Toussaint down the gangplank.
On shore. Soldiers usher Toussaint into a waiting prison coach. Latticed shutters cover the windows. They bolt the door, and the coach moves off, followed by mounted guards.
INT. OFFICER’S QUARTERS IN A PROVINCIAL BARRACKS IN FRANCE
Officers are sitting around in their shirtsleeves, relaxing. Tunics hang over chairs and on hooks. FOUR OFFICERS play cards at a table piled with money and brandy glasses. Other officers stand watching them, also drinking.
Major Pacot sits by himself at a table. He is cleaning a pistol and drinking brandy out of a shot glass. His tunic hangs on his chair; his sword lies on the table.
An officer enters and hangs his sword on a coat rack. He begins unbuttoning his tunic.
Hey Pacot . . . You know that prison coach coming through this afternoon? . . . You’ll never guess who’s on it. . . . It’s your old commander, L’Ouverture.
Yes! He’s accused of treason.
Treason? . . . Toussaint L’Ouverure . . . impossible!
Pacot gets up, puts on his tunic, and straps on his sword.
Hey! Where are you going?
The officers stop whatever they’re doing and look at Pacot. Pacot moves toward the door.
I’m going to salute the noblest commander in the French
The other officers get dressed and follow him out.
EXT. A STREET IN A PROVINCIAL TOWN - DAY
The prison coach and its armed escort move through town. FRENCH SOLDIERS line both sides of the street and salute smartly as the coach passes.
CLOSE IN on Pacot. He salutes as the coach goes by him. His face is stained by tears.
(quietly, to himself)
Long live Toussaint L’Ouverture . . .
Long live Liberty.
INT. PRISON COACH
Toussaint sits slumped over, staring emptily into space. The shuttered windows admit sunlight in horizontal stripes over Toussaint’s body.
EXT. PRISON YARD - DAY
The prison coach and escort pull into the courtyard of a dreary medieval castle. It is rainy, cold and grey. The procession halts and the soldiers dismount. A SOLDIER unbolts the door of the coach, and Toussaint emerges wearily, still wearing the general’s uniform he was arrested in. He also wears leg-irons and manacles. Toussaint shivers noticeably. The soldiers guard him closely and usher him to a small arched doorway covered by a heavy metal grate. They stand in front of the doorway a few moments, and the grate lifts vertically. WE HEAR creaking pulleys. They pass through the doorway.
They usher Toussaint quickly through a dingy passageway full of puddles until they come to another iron door. A FACE appears in a peephole, and the door opens. They walk through.
INT. PRISON OFFICE
An unkempt unshaven SERGEANT sits behind a crude desk, paring his fingernails with a knife. Two equally unkempt CORPORALS lounge on benches behind him. Toussaint is pushed before the sergeant who sticks the knife into his desk and leans back in his chair
Well, now, it’s prisoner Toussaint, isn’t it?
I am General L’Ouverture
The sergeant rises and sits on a corner of his desk.
We have no generals here, especially darkie ones. Isn’t
that right, boys?
The corporals snicker. A soldier produces a set of keys and unlocks Toussaint’s leg-irons and manacles. Toussaint rubs his wrists briskly
Now see here, Toussaint. You take off that there
general’s uniform and put on these.
He picks up a folded prison uniform from the bench and throws it at Toussaint. Toussaint makes no effort to catch it, and the uniform falls at his feet.
Now be a good boy and pick that up.
Toussaint hesitates for a moment and then stoops and picks up the uniform.
The sergeant hands one of the corporals a bunch of keys from a nail on his desk.
Here, put him in thirty-four.
The corporal unlocks a metal door on the other side of the chamber. Toussaint and the guards follow him through.
INT. TOUSSAINT’S CELL
The metal door creaks open and Toussaint is pushed through. The door SLAMS shut behind Toussaint who stands and surveys his surroundings. WE SEE a tin plate on a table, a crude chair, a small cot off to the side covered by a thin blanket, and a small fireplace with a few sticks of wood in it. High up on the far wall is a small barred window letting in a few beams of dingy light. CLOSE IN on water dripping down the stone walls of the cell.
EXT. DOCKSIDE AT LE CAP- DAY
The wharves and warehouses are rebuilt, and the quay is bustling with activity.
Odeluc walks down a ship’s gangplank, gold-headed walking stick in his hand. He stands on the wharf, momentarily and leans on his walking stick. He looks around and frowns disapprovingly. He walks up to a WHITE MAN standing by the entrance of a warehouse who is checking off items on a list as BLACKS carry barrels and crates into the warehouse.
See here, monsieur, I’ve got a load of a hundred niggers on that ship over there,
(points to the ship with his walking stick)
and I want to put them in holding cells overnight.
Holding cells? We have no holding cells, monsieur. There’s no slavery here anymore.
There is on Guadeloupe, and that’s where I bought that lot. Haven’t you heard? Slavery has been restored on Guadeloupe and Martinique by order of Napoleon Bonaparte himself, savior of the Revolution.
SEVERAL BLACKS put down what they are doing and listen closely. They whisper among themselves and run off.
We have heard no such news. You’ll have to keep them
aboard ship. We cannot keep slaves on shore.
Odeluc snorts and walks briskly away.
EXT. THE HARBOR - NIGHT
SEVERAL BLACKS are in the water around Odeluc’s ship. One of them begins climbing a rope dangling in the water. He carries a knife between his teeth. The other blacks follow him up the rope. They, too, carry knives in their teeth. The first black climbs aboard, sneaks up behind a WHITE SOLDIER, and deftly slits is throat without a sound. The other blacks climb on board.
The blacks sidle up to a cabin door, daggers in hand. Light shines from underneath the door. They pause for a moment and then kick in the door.
Inside the cabin. A WHITE MAN sits at a table, writing in a log. He looks up, terrified.
Hey! What the . . .
The blacks slit his throat and cut his keys from his belt.
The blacks unlock the padlock on the hold and open it. Blacks stream out of the hold and jump into the water.
EXT. A COUNTRY ROAD - DAY
Dessalines rides at the head of a column of troops. Black and white officers ride behind him. Behind them, black and white soldiers march on foot. A BLACK MESSENGER rides up to Dessalines and slows to keep pace with him.
We have news, General. There is slavery on Guadeloupe.
Are you absolutely sure?
Yes, sir; there was a ship full of slaves in Le Cap.
Go to General Christophe, right away. Tell him the time
The messenger gallops off. Dessalines turns and FIRES his pistol in the air. The column halts.
Dessalines turns his horse around.
Now hear me! There is slavery on Guadeloupe. If you
want to be free, kill every white man on the island!
Dessalines SHOOTS a WHITE OFFICER at point blank range. Black soldiers turn on the whites, SHOOTING and bayonetting them. The whites are too surprised to resist.
INT. TOUSSAINT’S CELL
Toussaint sits at the foot of his cot wrapped in a blanket. A few embers glow in the fireplace. WE HEAR the JINGLING of keys, and the door CREAKS open. A French General, CAFARELLI, in a gleaming white uniform steps into the cell. Toussaint looks up but does not rise.
General L’Ouverture, I am General Cafarelli, Bonaparte’s personal secretary.
You come from the First Consul?
Yes, he has received your letters.
Cafarelli turns the chair towards Toussaint and sits down.
Why am I here monsieur? Why am I being treated worse than a common criminal? Why have I been given no chance to prove my innocence?
The First Consul has every intention that you be brought to trial. You must have patience.
Of course, there are ways to speed things up. Certain information which might make your judges look on you with favor.
What do you want to know?
Cafarelli rises and paces about the cell.
It is well known, monsieur, that while you were governor, you amassed several million francs worth of gold and jewels . . .
Toussaint laughs derisively. Cafarelli is put off by Toussaint’s laughter.
. . . and hid them in a cave somewhere.
Buried treasure! Does Bonaparte love gold so much? There is no buried treasure. All my property was confiscated when I was arrested.
It is said that you had six men bury your hoard and then had them shot so no one would know where it is.
I have lost treasures more precious than gold, General.
Really, monsieur. I expected more cooperation from someone who values freedom.
Oh Lord! Why do you let them mock me?
Guard! Let me out!
EXT. ABOARD SHIP, A COUPLE OF MILES FROM SHORE - DAY
The island is clearly visible in the background. FRENCH SOLDIERS guard a large throng of BLACKS: MEN, WOMEN, and CHILDREN, huddled before the poop deck. They are all bound behind the back. Two French soldiers single a black man out of the crowd and push him toward the railing. One of the soldiers attaches a ball and chain to the man’s leg. The black man looks the other soldier square in the face and spits in his eye. The soldier doesn’t flinch. The other soldier pushes the ball over the side and the black man falls after it. WE HEAR a loud SPLASH.
The CAPTAIN and the FIRST MATE stand on the poop deck, watching. Throughout this scene, WE HEAR loud SPLASHES.
I know your orders are to drown them, Captain, but think for a minute. If we take this lot off to Puerto Rico and sell them, there’d be a few francs in it for us.
No, it’s been tried. No one will buy blacks from Saint Domingue. Just watch them. See how easily they die, not a whimper. People like that don’t make good slaves. No, LeClerc is right. Get rid of the blacks that are here and get fresh ones from Africa.
EXT. A COUNTRY ROAD - DAY
Dessalines rides slowly down the road before his troops. Off to the side, WE SEE a WHITE MAN hanging from a gallows by the roadside.
WHITE MEN hang from gallows and trees every fifty feet as far as the eye can see. In the distance, WE SEE thick black smoke.
INT. TOUSSAINT’S CELL
Two rats are gnawing on a moldy biscuit on a tin plate on the table. Toussaint sits on the chair in front of the fireplace. He is slumped slightly forward. The fire has gone out. WE HEAR the door CREAKING OPEN. The rats scamper off the table and hide in the shadows. The sergeant enters and walks over to Toussaint.
Hey Toussaint! Wake up! The rats are getting your
biscuit, and you’ve let the fire go out.
The sergeant shakes Toussaint who falls off the chair. The sergeant frowns.
Hey Corporal! Come here and give me a hand with this
corpse, will you?
EXT. THE RISE OVERLOOKING LE CAP - DAY
Dessalines and Christope look down on the city. Le Cap is once again in flames. In the distance WE SEE six ships sailing out of the harbor.
Dessaline’s and Christophe’s faces. They are completely expressionless.
The burning city and the ships.
SUPERIMPOSED over this scene, WE SEE the following words:
On November 29, 1803, the remnant of the French force, under General Rochambeau, retreated from Saint Domingue. Bonaparte’s greed had cost the lives of 63,000 Frenchmen and untold numbers of blacks.
Thus did the peaceful vision of Toussaint L’Ouverture give way to fire and destruction, hatred and revenge.
In October 1804, Dessalines was crowned Jean Jacques I, Emperor of Haiti.
In December 1804, Bonaparte was crowned Napoleon I, Emperor of France.
The shot opens up and WE SEE that the ground around them is a charred desert. The shot opens up some more and WE SEE that the entire landscape is nothing but heaps of smoldering ashes.